Kimi Raikkonen established himself as the man to beat in this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix after a powerful display in second practice at Sakhir. The Finn was quickest in both configurations on Friday afternoon with the Lotus looking particularly strong on the softer tyre. The Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were second and third with Fernando Alonso keeping up Ferrari’s strong form in fourth.
Alonso, having finished second to his teammate in Felipe Massa in FP1, reversed that particular order in the early stages of FP2 as Ferrari set the pace on the harder tyre once again but the picture changed once the option tyres were brought out. Webber was the man to demote Alonso with the fastest lap of the weekend so far, 1:34.184, and Vettel would come up short on his medium tyre run with a 1:34.282.
Improvements on the option tyres were minimal for Alonso and Massa while neither Mercedes had an answer to the Red Bull single pace either but Lotus were the last to show their hand. Romain Grosjean was the first to make a move, finding 1.5s seconds from his hard tyre performance to go sixth but Raikkonen was much faster, pulling out a four tenth lead at the end of the middle sector. Kimi was seen to make errors in each of the remaining two corners but it was a sign of his pace that he was still quicker than Webber over the course of the lap, sneaking in front by 0.030s.
Raikkonen wasn’t finished there, proceeding to complete nineteen laps on high fuel on the option tyres with very little drop off in lap times, an ominous message sent out to the rest of the field. Webber, Vettel and Alonso were his nearest challengers with Paul Di Resta a terrific fifth in the Force India ahead of Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean. Nico Rosberg was eighth in the quickest Mercedes with Adrian Sutil and Lewis Hamilton rounding out the top ten ahead of Jenson Button, 1.2s off the pace with the best McLaren had to offer.
Esteban Gutierrez was in the wars during the second session with another rookie mistake blighting his afternoon. The Mexican dived up the inside of a slow-moving Charles Pic into turn eight but ran wide himself, clipping the Caterham’s front wing and puncturing his own left front tyre. The youngster wouldn’t have the consolation of a good result either, ending the day in eighteenth.