F1 Bahrain GP: Nico Rosberg pips Lewis Hamilton in practice

Nico Rosberg pipped Formula 1 title rival and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to top spot in Friday's second free practice session ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix

F1 Bahrain GP: Nico Rosberg pips Lewis Hamilton in practice

Hamilton held sway during the early stages of the 90-minute session when everyone used the medium-compound Pirelli tyres that proved to be two seconds or more off the pace, the champion lapping four tenths faster than Rosberg and a tenth quicker than Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari.

But Rosberg then took the initiative when the softs were bolted on.

Hamilton did briefly go to the top of the timesheets after outpacing Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari, only to be subsequently relegated by Rosberg.

While Rosberg's lap was not perfect, Hamilton had a big front-right brake lock-up on the approach to Turn 8, sliding wide past the apex and costing him time.

The gap between the pair was 0.115s.

Rosberg's session was brought to an end with a few minutes to go when the team called him in because something concerning had been noted in the car-to-pits telemetry.

Raikkonen ended up as the best non-Mercedes in third place, a tenth ahead of Ferrari team-mate Vettel.

The Finn made an error in the final corner on his first flier on the softs, which cost him time on the run to the line, but improved on his second attempt.

Vettel made a bigger mistake at the same turn, running wide onto the run-off, but still set a time good enough to slot in just behind Raikkonen, and could not get ahead of his team-mate on his second attempt.

The German later suffered some damage to his front wing after contact with Sergio Perez's Force India at the first corner with just over 10 minutes remaining, dropping debris on track that brought out the red flag for three minutes.

The collision will be investigated by stewards after the session.

Williams driver Valtteri Bottas survived a left-front lock-up at Turn 10 to set the fifth fastest time, six-tenths off the pace, and was one of the last drivers to attempt a performance run.

As usual, the Williams team did not do a pure qualifying simulation, with Felipe Massa down in ninth place.

Daniel Ricciardo was sixth-fastest for Red Bull Racing, slotting ahead of the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado shortly after the halfway mark of the session.

Felipe Nasr capped off a promising day for Sauber with the eighth-fastest time, having earlier been an unexpected fourth-quickest on the medium rubber.

He was backed up by team-mate Marcus Ericsson, who was 11th fastest behind the second Williams of Massa and Daniil Kvyat's ninth-placed Red Bull.

Fernando Alonso narrowly missed out on a second top 10-placing of the day in 11th place, less than half a tenth off Ericsson and 1.544s off the pace.

But it was another mixed session for McLaren-Honda, with Alonso's team-mate, Jenson Button, being ordered to stop the car after completing just three laps and parking adjacent to the end of the Bahrain circuit's drag strip.

Button's car was recovered and he rejoined late in the session, although he did not improve on his earlier pace.

Romain Grosjean was 13th fastest ahead of the lead Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz, while Force India had a difficult day with Nico Hulkenberg, who was briefly third fastest after bolting on the softs, 15th and Perez 17th.

They sandwiched Max Verstappen's Toro Rosso, which appeared to require some attention to the front brakes during the session.

At Manor, Will Stevens was 1.5s faster than team-mate Roberto Merhi, with the pair split by Button's early time in the McLaren.

Both Hamilton and Raikkonen are being investigated for failing to leave the pitlane correctly during the session.

PRACTICE TIMES:

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m34.647s - 31
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.762s 0.115s 33
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m35.174s 0.527s 30
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m35.277s 0.630s 26
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m35.280s 0.633s 36
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m35.449s 0.802s 27
7 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1m35.474s 0.827s 34
8 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m35.793s 1.146s 27
9 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault 1m35.883s 1.236s 23
10 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m35.884s 1.237s 35
11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m36.148s 1.501s 34
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m36.191s 1.544s 22
13 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 1m36.334s 1.687s 31
14 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Renault 1m36.471s 1.824s 32
15 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m36.805s 2.158s 30
16 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1m36.917s 2.270s 26
17 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m37.062s 2.415s 33
18 Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari 1m39.131s 4.484s 21
19 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m39.209s 4.562s 15
20 Roberto Merhi Marussia/Ferrari 1m40.592s 5.945s 26

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