Nico Rosberg continued Mercedes’ strong start to the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend by setting a blistering pace during second practice on Friday.
The German set a time of 1m31.001s under the lights to lead team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.241s, but it was a disappointing session for Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who was forced to stop on track with what appeared to be a loose wheel.
Vettel was down in sixth during the session after failing to set a representative lap time on the Supersoft Pirelli tyre after a mistake on his qualifying simulation saw him end 1.649s behind Rosberg.
Jenson Button had an encouraging session for McLaren-Honda to place third fastest, although he was 1.280s back on the ultimate pace with Mercedes well clear of the field.
Max Verstappen also impressed by finishing fourth fastest, with the Dutchman aiming to become the first Scuderia Toro Rosso driver to score points around the Sakhir International Circuit. He finished just ahead of Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel.
The top ten was completed by Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo in seventh and ninth, and by Williams Martini Racing’s Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa in eighth and tenth.
Stoffel Vandoorne just missed out on the top ten as he continued his debut weekend with McLaren in place of the injured Fernando Alonso, finishing 1.998s down on Rosberg and 0.718s down on team-mate Button in eleventh.
Esteban Gutierrez was twelfth in the leading Haas F1 Team car, but team-mate Romain Grosjean was in the wars after appearing to damage his front wing on one of the serrated kerbs that saw the second introduction of the virtual safety car moments after the first caused by Vettel’s stoppage.
Grosjean ended the session fourteenth, just behind the second Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr, but ahead of the Sahara Force India of Sergio Perez, who returned to the track after sitting out opening practice so his fellow Mexican Alfonso Celis Jr could make his practice debut.
Renault duo Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer finished sixteenth and eighteenth respectively, either side of the second Force India of Nico Hulkenberg, while Pascal Wehrlein outpaced both Sauber drivers to finish nineteenth for Manor Racing, with team-mate Rio Haryanto last just but not too far away from the pace of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr.
Bahrain Grand Prix Free Practice 2 Result
|4||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m32.406s||31|
|7||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||1m32.703s||34|
|9||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||1m32.870s||23|
|13||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m33.177s||36|
|15||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||1m33.406s||35|
|17||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||1m33.570s||37|