Schumacher ‘a little rusty’ as Rosberg finishes on top in Friday practice

Nico Rosberg was the fastest driver in Friday practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, while teammate Michael Schumacher was in third position for Mercedes.

Both drivers reported balance issues during the morning practice, as they became accustomed with the new track layout and completed set-up work on the MGP W01. Over the lunch break, the team made changes to the cars, and the afternoon session was more positive, as the drivers concentrated on further set-up developments and tyre comparisons over runs of varying lengths.

Nico Rosberg was pleased with the improvements the team made during the day, and thinks the weekend has got off to a good start. “We improved the car over the course of the day but it didn't feel great initially with the new track, lower downforce and the conditions were very sandy this morning. So we had a few balance issues to work on but it came together very well this afternoon. There are areas where we can still improve but we have a good comparison with the tyre compounds and on the long runs. Overall we learnt a great deal today so it's a positive start to the weekend.”

Michael Schumacher surprised the paddock by saying he was a little ‘rusty’ over one lap runs, and needs to get back into a routine. However, he was pleased with the team’s achievements today. “We worked very well this afternoon after having a few issues with the balance this morning. The car felt much better in the second session although I am still a little rusty on one lap runs and need to get back into the routine. On the long runs, the car felt good and once you get into the rhythm, it feels very natural. I'm happy with our work today and feeling ready for the weekend.”

Ross Brawn was pleased that the season was finally getting underway, and looks forward to finding out how competitive Mercedes will be in qualifying tomorrow. ““After the development and testing work over the winter months, it was good to see the cars in action here in Bahrain today. We worked well to overcome some initial balance concerns which Nico and Michael experienced and achieved some very valuable work this afternoon. I feel we still need to make some progress so we need to wait and see how we will match up to our competitors when qualifying gets underway tomorrow.”