Verstappen leads the way
Verstappen went into the day with the favourite tag looming tentatively over his head but he dealt with it pretty comfortably as his time of 1:30.847 was fast enough to top the second session of the new Formula 1 season. Red Bull had a satisying pre-season testing at the Bahrain circuit in Sakhir and it seems to have translated into the new year with Verstappen seemingly the man to beat.
Lewis Hamilton built on his P4 earlier in the day and finished third but couldn't beat his compatriot Lando Norris who had another positive session, finishing with the second-fastest time with a 1:30.942. Norris and Verstappen were the only drivers to enter the 1:30s.
Bottas dropped back from second in FP1 to fifth in FP2 behind Carlos Sainz, leaving Mercedes scratching their heads as to how they can close the gap to Max Verstappen.
Mixed fortunes for the rookies
All of the new rookies arrive with fascinating narratives behind them and there was plenty to take from the day. Yuki Tsunoda had a pleasing FP2, beating his teammate and finishing an impressive seventh with a fastest lap of 1:31.294.
It wasn't such a rapid day for the Haas pair of Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher. The former finished dead last and regularly stressed his frustration with the balance of the Haas car. Schumacher was able to extract a bit more from it but could only manage 18th, with the pair split by Nicholas Latifi.