Mercedes predictably returned to the top of the timesheets in Friday’s second and final free practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Nico Rosberg edging out teammate Lewis Hamilton to top spot by just over one-tenth of a second. The warring pair finished half-a-second faster than FP1 pace-setting Ferraris of Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel.

After dedicating the opening practice session to long, high-fuel runs – and finishing well down the timesheets as a result – the Silver Arrows’ ever-present potential was unleashed almost as soon as the pit lane opened for Friday’s second 90-minute exchange.

With the sun having set and the cooler track now under floodlights, Rosberg clocked a 1:34.647 on Pirelli’s Soft tyres to edge out Hamilton by 0.115 seconds. The Englishman could well have laid claim to the fastest time of the session had he not suffered a heavy lock-up at Turn 8.

Räikkönen, the fastest man in the much hotter opening session, finished half a second adrift of Rosberg and one-tenth up on teammate Vettel, who himself threw away a potentially quicker lap time with a wide exit over the kerbs at Turn 15.

The German had further drama when he knocked off the left end-fence of his front wing after tagging Sergio Pérez’s Force India at Turn 1. The four-time World Champion apparently suffered a loss of brake pressure on approach to Turn 1, and was rather fortunate not to have had a larger accident.

The session was briefly red-flagged so the trackside marshals could retrieve the Ferrari’s debris; the stewards investigated the incident after the session and elected to take no further action.

Valtteri Bottas showed improved pace in his Williams to place fifth-quickest ahead of Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull Racing and Pastor Maldonado in the Lotus.

Felipe Nasr finished eighth-fastest in his Sauber, with Daniil Kvyat and Felipe Massa rounding out the top-ten in the second Red Bull Racing and Williams entries.

Marcus Ericsson missed out on the top-ten by just a quarter of a second. The Sauber rookie outpaced McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who continued his encouraging start to his weekend.

The same could not be said for teammate Jenson Button, who stopped out on track again and only returned to the session late in the piece. He was sandwiched at the bottom of the timesheets between the two Manor Marussia drivers, having been unable to post a more representative lap time.

Saturday’s final practice session at Sakhir begins at 15:00 local time (GMT +3).

2015 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Nico Rosberg de Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:34.647 31
2. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:34.762 + 0.115 33
3. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:35.174 + 0.527 30
4. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:35.277 + 0.630 26
5. Valtteri Bottas fi Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:35.280 + 0.633 36
6. Daniel Ricciardo au Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:35.449 + 0.802 27
7. Pastor Maldonado ve Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:35.474 + 0.827 34
8. Felipe Nasr br Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:35.793 + 1.146 27
9. Daniil Kvyat ru Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:35.883 + 1.236 23
10. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:35.884 + 1.237 35
11. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:36.148 + 1.501 34
12. Fernando Alonso es McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:36.191 + 1.544 22
13. Romain Grosjean fr Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:36.334 + 1.687 31
14. Carlos Sainz es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:36.471 + 1.824 32
15. Nico Hülkenberg de Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08 1:36.805 + 2.158 30
16. Max Verstappen nl Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:36.917 + 2.270 26
17. Sergio Pérez mx Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08 1:37.062 + 2.415 33
18. Will Stevens uk Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:39.131 + 4.484 21
19. Jenson Button uk McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:39.209 + 4.562 15
20. Roberto Merhi es Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:40.592 + 5.945 26

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.