Formula 1

Rosberg Dominates As Button Surprises.

Nico Rosberg has continued to show his dominating form in both free practice sessions today ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.

Nico Rosberg has continued to show his dominating form in both free practice sessions today ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.

Rosberg managed to secure the fastest time in both FP1 and FP2 around the twisty Sakhir circuit in Bahrain, where the second round of the 2016 season gets underway. The FP1, a 1:32.294 on soft tyres, was over two tenths of a second quicker than the teams’ pole position lap on the same compound from last year. For FP2 Rosberg went even faster. Setting a 1:31.001 on supersoft tyres, which team mate Lewis Hamilton could only get within 0.241 seconds of, on a 1:31.242. On the whole it was a quiet day for Hamilton, who seemed to lack the pace of his team mate. though he was quick to point out it was, “a good Friday overall”, adding: “The car is performing really well here. There were no surprises or issues to report throughout both practice sessions, which is always a good sign.

Elsewhere it was a difficult few practice sessions for the Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. During FP1 the team seemed to sandbag, with Raikkonen down in 3rd a whole 1.9 seconds off of Rosberg’s time. He managed a 1:34.128 on the same soft tyre as Rosberg. While Vettel failed to even make it into the top ten, finishing FP1 in 11th on a 1:35.073. FP2 was no better for the team as their runs were compromised by traffic on the circuit. Too add insult to injury Vettel’s car was forced to stop out on circuit, 15 minutes before the end after he realised the left rear tyre was fitted incorrectly. He pulled over and ended the session with a trackside viewing of the cars in the breaking zone of turns 11 and 12.

Up and down the grid many drivers fought to keep their cars on track following the usual Friday lock ups as they try to find the limit of their cars. One team who seemed to really suffer was the Haas F1 team. Romain Grosjean’s Haas looked rather tail happy, and the Frenchman could be seen regularly trying to battle the car out of corners. His car also seemed to suffer a string of bodywork failures. First his fuel cap flew off in FP1, followed by the right bit of his front wing in FP2. He managed to set the 9th and 14th fastest time respectively in his practice sessions.

The surprise of the day however came from Jenson Button in FP2, when he set the third fastest time of the session, with a 1:32.281 on supersoft tyres. The weekend has not been smooth at all for McLaren, after they announced yesterday Fernando Alonso would not be racing this weekend. However, this show of pace from Button is perhaps what the team needed, after a torrid 16 months with their Honda power unit.

“Jenson’s pace was surprising, not him but the team’s. He’s alright for an old man!” joked Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo. “Even if Jenson was on five kilos of fuel that was a decent lap time.”

In contrast rookie Stoffel Vandoorne, who is covering for Alonso this weekend, managed a 1:32.999 in FP2. The time for Vandoorne seemed to be lost mostly in the first sector relative to his experienced team mate.

Free Practice 1 results
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:32.294
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:32.799
3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:34.128
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:34.461
5. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:34.541
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:34.601
7. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:34.793
8. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:34.860
9. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:35.000
10. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:35.006
11. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:35.073
12. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:35.174
13. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 1:35.309
14. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:35.440
15. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, 1:35.490
16. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:35.728
17. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, 1:36.371
18. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:36.392
19. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:36.719
20. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:36.939
21. Alfonso Celis, (Reserve driver replacing Perez for the session) Force India, 1:37.287
22. Rio Haryanto, Manor, 1:37.714

Free Practice 2 results

1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:31.001
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:31.242
3. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:32.281
4. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:32.406
5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:32.452
6. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:32.650
7. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:32.703
8. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:32.792
9. Daniel Ricciardo, Ferrari, 1:32.870
10. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:32.873
11. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:32.999
12. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 1:33.129
13. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:33.177
14. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:33.384
15. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:33.406
16. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, 1:33.447
17. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:33.570
18. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:33.640
19. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, 1:33.953
20. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:34.224
21. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:34.477
22. Rio Haryanto, Manor, 1:34.562

Feature Image Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronus Press release

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