Lewis Hamilton picked up where he left off in Malaysia to go fastest in both practice sessions ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Confirming that Mercedes remains in front of the competition, team mate Nico Rosberg was second fastest both times. In the second session, he trailed 2008 World Champion Hamilton by three tenths of a second. Under the floodlights, Fernando Alonso emerged as the best of the rest, but was still over a second off the pace of the Silver Arrows.
Daniel Ricciardo was fourth fastest, ahead of Felipe Massa and Jenson Button. Ricciardo’s team mate Sebastian Vettel ended the day eighth fastest. The top ten was completed Daniil Kvyat, who struggled with car issues throughout the session, and Kevin Magnussen.
With five different types of car rounding out the top ten, it shows that the race behind the Mercedes drivers should be a close one. However, Hamilton and Rosberg continue to hold a substantial margin over their rivals in both one lap pace and longer runs.
Three drivers hit problems in the evening session, with the first being Max Chilton. The Marussia driver suffered a spectacular spin at turn four which was put down to an as yet undisclosed technical problem. Sauber’s Adrian Sutil and Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson would also stop on circuit, neither suffering as dramatic problems as Chilton.
Nico Rosberg was reprimanded, after he was judged to have impeded Sergio Perez when the Mexican was on a fast lap. A similar incident took place later on between Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Massa, but the stewards decided not to take action against Gutierrez.
In the earlier practice session, Hamilton’s margin over Rosberg was just two tenths of a second, with Alonso again third. Hulkenberg, who topped the time sheets during pre-season testing at Bahrain, posted the fourth quickest time.
Kimi Raikkonen registered the seventh fastest time, but damaged his Ferrari after hitting a kerb.
Two reserve drivers enjoyed their first competitive outings of 2014. Felipe Nasr took over Valtteri Bottas’ Williams was thirteenth fastest. He finished ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, with Red Bull having a quiet morning. Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel was tenth quickest.
Kamui Kobayashi was also forced to watch from the pits as Robin Frijns took to the circuit. He ended the session twenty first, only ahead of Caterham’s regular driver, Ericsson.