It looks like Ferrari’s tyre baking friendly SF-15T is set to challenge the Mercedes W06 again this weekend as FP1 and FP2 times were a lot closer than Mercedes would like with Kimi Raikkonen topping the charts in FP1with a 1:37.827 and Nico Rosberg posting 1:34.647 to make the fastest lap time in FP2 and more importantly for himself go 0.115s faster than teammate Lewis Hamilton.
It wasn't all smiles for Kimi Raikkonen as the Finn was reprimanded in FP2 for “driving in a dangerous manner” and Sebastian Vettel colliding with Sergio Perez in FP2 to lose his front wing, although this didn't stop him posting the 4th fastest lap time of the session. Interestingly the Finn was faster than Vettel in both FP sessions. Overall for Ferrari things are looking good as even rivals Mercedes are concerned and recognising them as a threat for race victory after their race pace seemed very solid along with their 1 lap pace. Nico Rosberg has stated he’s worried about the Scuderia and that “in the race they’re (Ferrari) quick” and his compatriot Ferrari driver Vettel believes the win on Sunday evening is possible.
It’s not all rosy for the Renault powered teams of Torro Rosso and Red Bull with Renault’s Chief Technical Officer admitting the issues of Max Verstappen’s engine that ground to a halt in China could be a big worry for all 4 cars in Bahrain with Renault unable to come up with a viable solution for the problem.
The best of the rest seem to be a lot closer to Ferrari than expected with Williams, Red Bull and Lotus finishing within only 0.3s with laps posted by Bottas, Ricciardo and Lotus respectively at the end of FP2.
Encouraging signs have been seen from McLaren with Fernando Alonso went 12th fastest in FP2 however it wasn't the same fortune for 2009 world champion Jenson Button who having broke down in FP1 broke down again after managing only 3 laps in FP2 but did manager to post a lap time to earn him 19th on the lap time standings.
Practice One Timesheet
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:37.827
2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:38.029
3. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:38.390
4. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:38.447
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:38.455
6. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:38.504
7. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:38.598
8. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:38.628
9. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:38.661
10. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:38.790
11. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:38.793
12. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, 1:38.842
13. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:39.187
14. Jolyon Palmer, Lotus, 1:39.283
15. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:39.293
16. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:39.532
17. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:39.534
18. Will Stevens, Manor, 1:42.973
19. Roberto Merhi, Manor, 1:44.265
20. Jenson Button, McLaren, No Time
Practice Two Timesheet
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:34.647
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:34.762
3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:35.174
4. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:35.277
5. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:35.280
6. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:35.449
7. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, 1:35.
8. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:35.793
9. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:35.883
10. Felipe Massa, 1:35.884
11. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:36.148
12. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:36.191
13. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:36.334
14. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:36.471
15. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:36.805
16. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:36.917
17. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:37.062
18. Will Stevens, Manor, 1:39.131
19. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:39.209
20. Roberto Merhi, Manor, 1:40.592
Qualifying 1 will start at 1600 GMT and the race on Sunday will see lights out at 1600 GMT.
Sandstorms have been forecast for the weekend, do you think the cars should run in a light sandstorm? Is it similar to running in torrential rain? Who’s your favourite so far for qualifying and are they different from who you expect to take victory on Sunday?