Bahrain Practice 2: Hamilton and Mercedes in a league of their own

Lewis Hamilton on night shift in Bahrain

Lewis Hamilton on night shift in Bahrain

With his Mercedes sparkling bright under nearly 5,000 spanking new floodlights, Lewis Hamilton’s hot streak carried over from the first Free Practice earlier in the day to the night time Second Practise of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, with Nico Rosberg again second best as the Silver Arrows appeared to have a clear edge over their rivals, at the end of day one at Sakhir.

With a good car at his disposal Hamilton is fired up, and relishing the role of pace setter. There is a spring in his step and glint in his eye with a single minded focus on the business at hand, a state of mind which, according to Niki Lauda,  makes the Briton virtually unbeatable.

Hamilton’s best lap of 1:34.325 was 0.365 of a second up on Rosberg’s best and over a second better than  best-of-the-rest Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. The next ten drivers were within within a second of the Spaniard’s top time, indicating just how completely Mercedes are currently in another league.

Nico Rosberg  second fastest

Nico Rosberg second fastest

Ominously for everyone else, the single hot lap pace  of the W05 is right up there and the race simulation they ran on the day also set the benchmark. Indications, after day one in the desert, are that Bahrain is Merc’s for the taking, or alternatively their’s to lose.

After a somewhat subdued FP1 session Red Bull came to the party with Daniel Ricciardo setting the fourth fastest time and teammate Sebastian Vettel seventh quickest. Team boss Christian Horner claims another fuel flow sensor failed, a malady which thus far has only afflicted the Renault brigade.

Best of the Mercedes customer posse was Felipe Massa in the Williams with the fifth best time, ahead of the McLaren of Jenson Button who ended the 90 minute session in sixth.

Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday 4 April 2014.

Fernando Alonso third fastest

Rookie Daniil Kvyat got his weekend off to an impressive start in Bahrain with the eighth best time, faster in both sessions on the day than more experienced Toro Rosso teammate Jean Eric Vergne, who was 12th.

Another rookie, McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, rounded out the top ten a mere 0.134 of a second down on teammate Button’s best.

Notably out of the top ten was Kimi Raikkonen who continued to struggle, relative to his Ferrari teammate, and ended the day down in 14th. The Finn battled with the nuances of the finicky F14T, which seemingly is unkind to his driving style.

Frustrations continued for the Lotus lads who again clocked up some relatively good mileage in the E22, but both Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean are woefully off the pace – they ended up 17th and 18 respectively – around three seconds off Hamilton’s best.

At the sharp end, race pace simulations suggest that Mercedes have the edge but that there is very little to separate Force India, Red Bull and Williams, as well as the Ferrari of Alonso.

Subbed by AJN.

Daniel Ricciardo fourth fastest

Daniel Ricciardo fourth fastest

Bahrain Grand Prix, Free Practice 2 – Friday, 4 April 2014

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.325 28
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:34.690 0.365 31
3 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:35.360 1.035 28
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:35.433 1.108 28
5 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:35.442 1.117
6 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.528 1.203 21
7 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:35.606 1.281 30
8 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 1:35.640 1.315 31
9 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.662 1.337 22
10 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:35.802 1.477 40
11 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:35.920 1.595 9
12 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 1:35.972 1.647 33
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:35.998 1.673 18
14 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:36.366 2.041 33
15 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.962 2.637 13
16 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.975 2.650 35
17 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:37.259 2.934 25
18 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:37.599 3.274 23
19 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:37.800 3.475 15
20 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:38.247 3.922 10
21 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:38.257 3.932 33
22 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:39.136 4.811 30