All Day and All of the Night
Pastor Maldonado showed pace on the way to seventh in the twilight second session after a promising first practice alongside Jolyon Palmer. Romain Grosjean returned in the second and focussed on seeking his optimum setup, eventually taking 13th.
Pastor was able to run in both sessions and as such had a more comfortable set-up that allowed him to run as high as fifth before setting his fastest time of 1min 35.474secs, only 0.8secs off the top time set by Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg.
“I was very happy with the car in the hot conditions of the first session and also in the cooler, later session too,” said Pastor. “This is very positive as we didn’t have to spend too much time working on refining the set-up for the different track temperature but could work on our usual tyre evaluations.
“We know the evening session is more relevant than under the sun in the morning. It’s not just temperature, but the feeling in the car too. The evening soft tyre runs give us a reference point for the race, we need to focus on the evening data. We can then manage and go from there.”
Romain also saw improvements on the E23 while running in the all-important second session, despite setup issues, and believed Pastor’s pace bode well for the rest of the weekend.
“It’s not ideal to miss FP1, but FP2 is more important. The car balance wasn’t quite right for me but Pastor’s pace was encouraging and can be for me,” he said. “The circuit is always great to drive and we run qualifying and the race in similar conditions to those we saw in FP2 today, so we really need to get the car where we want it overnight.”
“I think the E23 still has the benefit of being easy on the tyres that the E20 and E21 did. Hopefully that will help us in the race on Sunday. If we protect our tyres better than others it gives us a good chance to attack in the race.”
All three of the drivers saw promising signs from the E23, with Palmer’s second consecutive outing saw the Briton impress on the Bahrain International Circuit in the morning first practice session.
“It was a great session for me and it felt far smoother than last time out,” he said. “It was great to be back in the car so soon after Shanghai as I’ve been able to maintain a good momentum.
“The car felt improved since China, with similar characteristics enabling me to feel comfortable and push. I’m happy with today’s work.”
With the trio seeing potential in the car at Bahrain, Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane felt there was still progress to be made ahead of tomorrow.
“Friday in Bahrain is a bit of an usual day now as we run FP1 in hot daytime conditions, then FP2 is in much cooler conditions similar to those of the race and qualifying,” he said. “This gives us more of a challenge for set-up as work done in FP1 isn’t as relevant to later, but we are well versed in these situations.”
“Once more, we had three drivers in the car today, each of which delivered as we’d expect. Jolyon drove very well in his second session in the car and had more pace than his lap time showed due to small technical issue on his fastest lap.”