Bahrain GP - Friday - Practice Session 2 Report

Night and Day

Sebastian Vettel, Bahrain GP 2017

Sebastian Vettel, Bahrain GP 2017 

 © RV Press

 

By Dan Knutson in Manama

The start time for the Bahrain Grand Prix is 6 p.m. local time on Sunday, which is the same time Free Practice 2 began and the sun set on Friday. The cooler track and the subsequent quicker lap times at night, therefore, were far more relevant than they had been in the hot conditions of FP1 earlier in the afternoon.

Sebastian Vettel went quickest in that FP1 session, clocking a 1:32.697 in his Ferrari on the soft compound Pirellis.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 91 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Centigrade.)

In FP1, the ambient temperature as the session began had been 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Centigrade).

Besides the cooler conditions, the dusty track was getting cleaned up and rubber was get set into the racing line. Plus the drivers tried out the super soft Pirelli tires.

The end result was that Vettel was again fastest, this time with a time of 1:31.310.

The lineup for the weekend was: Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas; Red Bull TAG Heuer – Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen; Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen; Force India Mercedes – Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon; Williams Mercedes – Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll; McLaren Honda – Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne; Renault – Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer; Toro Rosso Renault – Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz; Haas Ferrari – Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; Sauber Ferrari – Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.

Haas teammates Grosjean and Magnussen were the first out.

Vettel, on the soft compound Pirellis, set the early pace with a 1:32.615. The other two compounds available were the medium and super soft. Bottas then beat that by 0.001 of a second.

All the drivers were using the softs in the early going, and Raikkonen moved ahead with a lap in 1:32.277 at 15 minutes into the session. Then Sainz's car started to smoke and he pulled over at Turn 11. The Virtual Safety Car was deployed for a couple of minutes.

Hamilton was now second with a time 0.013 of a second slower than Raikkonen's best.

Just before the 30-minute mark Vettel began a run on the super soft tires that yielded a 1:31.310 despite him struggling with his brakes.

Bottas was next up, getting traffic on his run to a 1:31.351. He posted that time just as teammate Hamilton began his run on the super softs that ended with him sliding briefly off trying to avoid Hulkenberg's Renault. The stewards said they'd investigate that after the session.

The super soft runs were coming thick and fast now. Vettel got down to a 1:31.310 to stay ahead of Bottas, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Hulkenberg.

Massa, Verstappen, Grosjean and Kvyat rounded out the top 10 at the halfway mark.

In FP1, Raikkonen had stopped on track with a smoking car. In FP2, it was Vettel's turn and he coasted to a stop. "Complete shut down," he radioed. The marshals pushed the Ferrari back to the pits.

Meanwhile, Vandoorne was finally getting in some laps after having his engine changed during the break.

The teams devoted the final third of the session to the usual long runs on used tires race simulation laps. Far better to do the work now than in the hot day FP3 session on Saturday. Vettel was among them as the crew had managed to get his Ferrari running.

But Vandoorne was back in the pits having done just eight laps. Sainz was also out of action after completing just five laps.

At the end of the night FP2 session the top 10 remained: Vettel, Bottas, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Massa, Verstappen, Grosjean and Kvyat.


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