It was a tale of two sessions for the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team in Bahrain, with the team concentrating on outright pace in the second session in the evening after using the first session in the afternoon to analyse their tyres.
Nico Rosberg was the faster of the two Mercedes drivers in both sessions, with the German beating Lewis Hamilton to top spot in FP2 after the two drivers finished fifteenth and sixteenth respectively in FP1.
Rosberg revealed the team were more focused on performance during the afternoon session as true lap time and pace was to come in the evening session, which will be more representative of the conditions that will be seen during qualifying and the race later this weekend.
“It was a good day today,” revealed Rosberg. “The afternoon session wasn’t very useful as the conditions are so hot and really quite different to what we see in the evening – which is of course when qualifying and the race will be held.
“That makes the second session very valuable and we learned a lot – for example that Ferrari are very good on the long runs. On qualifying laps we look quicker but on race pace they are really strong so we will have to do a lot of work tonight to find the perfect set-up.
“Tyre wise it’s all been pretty straightforward. Both compounds are robust – it’s just their absolute pace that should be a factor. Qualifying will be important as we saw in the last few races. But I’m feeling good about my pace on one lap and the long runs too so confidence is high.”
Team-mate Hamilton was also happy with his days work, and felt the long runs during the day were beneficial. He acknowledges the pace of the Ferrari team in Bahrain, but feels the team are in a far better position than they were in the heat of Malaysia when they saw their winning run ended by the Scuderia.
“We’ve had a good day in terms of getting the long runs in and understanding the tyres,” insisted Hamilton. “Working on race runs was the priority – although we did also show strong single lap pace.
“On my fastest lap I locked up into Turn 8 so lost out a bit there and there’s a few areas I need to work on to find a bit more time.
“It’s difficult to say how long each compound will go but the option feels great. From what I can see it shouldn’t be as tough as it was in Malaysia from a tyre perspective and we’re definitely in a better position this weekend than at the same stage in Sepang.
“Despite that, I’m sure it will still be very close with Ferrari, who look very good on the long runs. Generally, though, it’s been a positive start.”