Bahrain GP - Friday - Practice Session 2 Report
No Light Fight
Nobody could fight the Mercedes cars under the lights at the Bahrain International Circuit. Lewis Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg were easily quickest in the Free Practice 2 session that took place under the floodlights. Hamilton was 1.035 seconds faster than Fernando Alonso who wound up third in his Ferrari and unable to fight the Mercedes duo.
With the sun setting ‚Äì official sunset time was 5:55 p.m. and just five minutes before the start of FP2 ‚Äì track temperatures dropped dramatically.
The ambient temperature at 2 p.m. at the start of the FP1 session was 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Centigrade.)
The ambient temperature at 5:55 p.m., five minutes before the start of the FP2 session, was degrees 72 Fahrenheit (22 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Centigrade.)
Adrian Sutil was the first out in his Sauber for the first ever official practice session under the lights at the Bahrain International Circuit. The teams had done about 30 minutes under the lights on the last day of preseason testing.
The drivers started setting times and Daniil Kvyat put his Toro Rosso on top of the list with a 1:38.974.
6 minutes into the session, Jenson Button beat that with a 1:38.235 in his McLaren. Then Button's teammate Kevin Magnussen responded with a 1:37.973.
But now Lewis Hamilton was out on the track in his Mercedes, and he went quickest in all three sectors to post a 1:36.506. His teammate Nico Rosberg then set the best time in sector 1, but messed up in sector 2 and went off the track.
15 minutes into the session, Fernando Alonso moved his Ferrari into second place after clocking a 1:37.079 only to have Rosberg, who said his car had too much oversteer, top that with a 1:36.601.
Sebastian Vettel radioed in that there was something wrong with the downshift on his Red Bull and he headed back to the pits.
The tire of choice in the early part of FP2 was Pirelli's medium compound slick.
19 minutes into the session, as in FP1, Nico Hulkenberg was looking good in the Force India. He was up to fourth place albeit 0.935 of a second slower than Hamilton.
23 minutes into the session, everybody had set a time with the exception of the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.
28 minutes into the session, Romain Grosjean set the seventh best time with Pirelli's soft tires fitted to his Lotus.
30 minutes into the session, the top six were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), Alonso, Vettel and Hulkenberg.
31 minutes into the session, Sergio Perez clocked a 1:35.802 in his Force India with soft tires fitted. Now Rosberg was doing a run with the soft Pirellis, and he beat Perez's time by 1.112 seconds with lap in 1:34.690.
34 minutes into the session, Hamilton began his lap on softs. He went quickest in all three sectors to turn in a crushing 1:34.325.
More laps on the softs saw Alonso go to third, Button to fourth and Kvyat to fifth. The soft "option" tire offered a huge increase in grip over the medium "prime" tire.
43 minutes into the session, Pastor Maldonado launched his Lotus over the curbs and shredded off a few bits of carbon fiber floor.
Midway through FP2 the top six were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso, Ricciardo, Button and Kvyat. The Williams drivers had yet to go out.
With 43 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel moved up to sixth. And Jean-Eric Vergne spun his Toro Rosso at Turn 8.
With 26 minutes remaining in the session, Max Chilton's Marussia suffered a complete loss of power. He pulled off at Turn 4 and hopped out of the car.
A couple of minutes later, Adrian Sutil parked his Sauber at Turn 6.
Massa was finally out there getting in some laps but Bottas remained in the Williams garage.
At the one hour mark the top six were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso, Ricciardo, Button and Vettel.
Fast lap times were not the objective now, but rather doing long runs to check the degradation and wear of the soft and medium tires. The Mercedes driver's times dropped into the 1:39 and 1:40 range with tires that had over 15 laps on them.
With 17 minutes remaining in the session, Bottas had turned just five laps and was in 17th place while Massa was not much better up in 13th place.
With 16 minutes remaining in the session, it was starting to get busy out there with all but Massa and Bottas (plus the broken down cars of Sutil and Chilton) turning laps.
With 11 minutes remaining in the session, Massa finally got moving and set a 1:35.442, good enough for fifth place.
Red Bull radioed Vettel that the prime tire was not very good and the team was more interested in the options.
With 10 minutes remaining in the session, the top 10 were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso, Ricciardo, Massa, Button, Vettel, Kvyat, Magnussen and Perez. Meanwhile Marcus Ericson parked his Caterham at Turn 10.
The top 10 at the end of FP2 remained the same.