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Sainz sets pace on Day 2 of pre-season testing as he improves on Leclerc’s earlier benchmark

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 22: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-24 on track

Carlos Sainz set the pace on the second day of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit, as the Spaniard improved on his Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc’s morning benchmark as the sun started to set in the desert.

Sainz clocked a 1m 29.921s on the C4 Pirelli tyres – the second softest in the range – as some teams started to shift attention from data gathering and long runs on harder compounds to starting to push their new packages.

READ MORE: Leclerc sets the pace as second morning of pre-season testing ends early

It turned out to be a productive afternoon for Ferrari, with Sainz clocking 84 laps – adding to the 54 Leclerc managed this morning – when the session ended because of a track inspection, triggered by Leclerc running over a drain cover and sprinkling debris on the approach to Turn 11.

To make up for the lost time, Leclerc returned to the track in the afternoon to bolster his lap count – running a replacement floor – before handing the car over to Sainz, who ended the day 0.758s clear of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

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Red Bull had intended to draft Verstappen in to take over from Perez in the afternoon – with the Mexican getting a full day on Friday – however, following the disruption, the reigning world champions opted to keep Perez in the car to maximise track time.

Aside from a small loss of time, courtesy of a brake fire and possible power issue, Perez comfortably cleared a century of laps to give Red Bull plenty more data to crunch overnight.

WATCH: What we learned on the first day of pre-season testing in Bahrain

Lewis Hamilton got his first real taste of 2024 machinery when he got behind the wheel of the Mercedes, the seven-time world champion doing a full day of running and cruising past 100 laps on his way to the third fastest time.

Lando Norris was fourth for McLaren – the Briton losing a little time in the afternoon as the team investigated a small fuel system issue – having taken over from team mate Oscar Piastri.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 22: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20

Sergio Perez was second fastest in the day's second session

Daniel Ricciardo continued RB’s encouraging start to pre-season testing with the fifth best time (he was P4 on day one), the Australian a fraction adrift of Norris – 1.440s off the pace.

Leclerc’s best time set earlier in the day was enough to keep him sixth, ahead of Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas with Oscar Piastri closing out the top-10.

TECH ANALYSIS: Why Red Bull's dominant opening day of testing wasn't quite all it seemed

Logan Sargeant had another disrupted day, the American having a few issues out on track, including a half-spin exiting Turn 10 – while his Williams team had a couple of mechanical gremlins to fix too.

However, Sargeant still clocked 117 laps in total to bring his session to a close, his team mate Alex Albon completing the team’s running with a full day in the car on Friday.

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