BAHRAIN GP – Vettel tops second practice, but the gap to Mercedes are nip and tuck

Testing & Race Reports

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the second practice ahead of this weekends Bahrain Grand Prix. Vettel set a 31.3 to go less than six hundredths of a second faster than the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo third.

On track, both on single run and long run pace Mercedes and Ferrari appeared to be evenly matched on one lap pace. Vettel set his fastest time early on in the session using the supersoft tyres, before running into technical problems in the latter part of the lap.

Vettel said his car was in “complete shutdown”, this was because his car had an electrical problem and ground to a halt just before the pit lane. This will cause concern for Ferrari, as team-mate Kimi Raikkonen also had issues in FP1. Raikkonen however was two tenths ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver had a messy session, meaning he set his best lap on dirty tyres after he aborted his first lap, his second lap wasn’t better as he was held up by the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and his third lap would have been affected by him using the best of the rubber.

Hamilton had to go around the outside of the Renault who was moving slowly, with the Brit having to take avoiding action. Saying “these drivers are just so dangerous,” over the radio. The stewards will investigate the incident after the session.

But, looking at Hamilton’s race simulations he appears to have a slight advantage over the other drivers on the super-soft tyres and the soft tyres – other than two very quick laps by Raikkonen on the softs right at the end of the session.

Hulkenberg by that point had already set his best time which was good enough for sixth. That put him ahead of Williams’s Felipe Massa and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. With Romain Grosjean and Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top 10, which was covered by 1.4s.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was fifteenth, ahead of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne who had a late start to the session. After the MGU-H problem in FP1, McLaren opted to change his whole power unit, except for the battery and control electronics, to save time and he was able to get on track shortly after the halfway mark.

 

He ended up slowest, having focused on long-run evaluation rather than going for lap times.

That put him ahead of Carlos Sainz, whose evening was brought to an early end as after just 15 minutes with smoke emerging from his car, and Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein, who is returning to F1 action after missing the Australian and Chinese GPs and completed 29 laps.

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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