Lewis Hamilton leads the way in Bahrain FP3

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the third and final practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Ferrari set the early pace with FP1 pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen leading his team-mate my two tenths of a second on the medium compound tyres. Later on the in the session drivers put on the soft tyres and Nico Hulkenberg set the fastest lap – five tenths faster than Raikkonen’s effort. This was quickly beaten by Nico Rosberg – nearly a second and a half faster – with Felipe Massa slotting into second. The order continued to change with Lewis Hamilton topping the times and Sebastian Vettel was just six hundredths off his pace.

As had been the case in Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 a number of drivers struggled with lock-ups and running deep in the braking zones. Vettel complained that his DRS was not working when he first went out on track while Jenson Button bemoaned a lack of rear grip. A bit from the rear of Pastor Maldonado’s car fell off, leaving a bit of debris on the track, while Carlos Sainz struggled with power issues.

Daniil Kvyat’s session came to an apparent early end when he spun his car and ended up beached in the gravel after 30 minutes. His mechanics got the car ready to go again and he got out with a couple of minutes left to get a soft tyre run in. The incident was initially covered by a yellow flag but a red flag was brought out to allow marshals to recover the car. It was a brief five minute red flag period and cars wasted no time in getting out again for the restart. Fernando Alonso was one of the first drivers out having had extensive work carried out on his car to fix a broken sensor.

Free practice three times:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:34.599 – 13 laps
  2. Sebastian Vettel – 1:34.668 – 14 laps
  3. Nico Rosberg 1:34.968 – 16 laps
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:35.141 – 13 laps
  5. Valtteri Bottas – 1:35.393 – 18 laps
  6. Felipe Massa  – 1:35.471 – 15 laps
  7. Pastor Maldonado – 1:36.307 – 14 laps
  8. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:36.335 – 8 laps
  9. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:36.421 – 13 laps
  10. Felipe Nasr – 1:36.429 – 18 laps
  11. Jenson Button – 1:36.488 – 14 laps
  12. Daniil Kvyat – 1:36.548 – 7 laps
  13. Marcus Ericsson – 1:36.612 – 17 laps
  14. Max Verstappen – 1:36.684 – 11 laps
  15. Sergio Perez – 1:36.727 – 14 laps
  16. Fernando Alonso – 1:36.899 – 11 laps
  17. Carlos Sainz – 1:36.979 – 14 laps
  18. Romain Grosjean – 1:37.151 – 17 laps
  19. Will Stevens – 1:39.745 – 12 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:40.541 – 14 laps

FP2 in Bahrain sees Nico Rosberg top the times

Following a free practice session spent focusing on long runs and tyre evaluations, Mercedes returned to the top of the times in FP2.

Nico Rosberg lead the way just a tenth of a second faster than his team-mate. Earlier pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen ended the session third – continuing Ferrari’s impressive showing – four tenths down on Lewis Hamilton’s time. With a top 11 separated by under a second in FP1 the gap increased in FP2. The top eight were within a second while the gap to eleventh crept up to one and a half seconds.

Romain Grosjean returned to his car after Jolyon Palmer’s appearance in free practice one. The Frenchman – who scored his first points of the year in Malaysia – ended up 13th just behind the McLaren of Fernando Alonso. After grinding to a halt after just a few minutes in the first practice session, Jenson Button again came to stop early on. This time he managed three laps before stopping on the back straight. He did get out again later in the session, however, ending up 19th fastest and completing 15 laps.

A number of drivers struggled as the conditions turned from day to night. The lock-ups from earlier in the day continued while a number of drivers ran wide. In the closing stages of practice Sebastian Vettel picked up front wing damage as well as suffering from braking failure. He later apologised for hitting Sergio Perez which was what resulted from his brake failure. Raikkonen found himself in hot water, being investigated for not leaving the pit-lane correctly. He was reprimanded but no further action was taken.

Free practice two results:

  1. Nico Rosberg – 1:34.647 – 31 laps
  2. Lewis Hamilton – 1:34.762 – 33 laps
  3. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:35.174 – 30 laps
  4. Sebastian Vettel – 1:35.277 – 26 laps
  5. Valtteri Bottas – 1:35.280 – 36 laps
  6. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:35.449 – 27 laps
  7. Pastor Maldonado – 1:35.474 – 34 laps
  8. Felipe Nasr – 1:35.793 – 27 laps
  9. Daniil Kvyat – 1:35.883 – 23 laps
  10. Felipe Massa – 1:35.884 – 35 laps
  11. Marcus Ericsson – 1:36.148 – 34 laps
  12. Fernando Alonso – 1:36.191 – 22 laps
  13. Romain Grosjean – 1:36.334 – 31 laps
  14. Carlos Sainz – 1:36.471 – 32 laps
  15. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:36.805 – 30 laps
  16. Max Verstappen – 1:36.917 – 26 laps
  17. Sergio Perez – 1:37.062 – 33 laps
  18. Will Stevens – 1:39.131 – 21 laps
  19. Jenson Button – 1:39.209 – 15 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:40.592 – 26 laps

Kimi Raikkonen leads Ferrari 1-2 in Bahrain FP1

Kimi Raikkonen was the fastest man in the first practice session ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Finn – who has impressed at the circuit before but never won – was two tenths faster than his team-mate by the end of FP1. The top 11 were within one second of the Ferrari pace with Valtteri Bottas half a second down on his fellow countryman’s pace.

A green track saw a number of drivers struggling to stop at corners and lock-up. The conditions in FP1 are also not representative of the rest of the weekend as the race goes from day to night while free practice takes place earlier in the day and therefore much warmer conditions. In the first thirty minutes of action – in which the drivers have an additional set of tyres which they must return after that time – Raikkonen lead the way from Vettel, Bottas, Daniil Kvyat, Marcus Ericsson and Sergio Perez.

It wasn’t all straight forward for the pacesetters as Vettel complained of a loss of power halfway into the session. With half an hour to go the timing screens showed Max Verstappen fastest ahead of Fernando Alonso, Perez, Pastor Maldonado and Raikkonen. Alonso ended the session seventh for McLaren while team-mate Jenson Button spun just three minutes into the session and failed to get out again. Vettel did get out in his car following his problems, however, as Raikkonen improved his time. Jolyon Palmer was in action for Lotus and finished just four tenths off team-mate Maldonado. Elsewhere the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg focused on long runs and tyre evaluation.

Free Practice 1 times:

  1. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:37.827 – 13 laps
  2. Sebastian Vettel – 1:38.029 – 12 laps
  3. Valtteri Bottas – 1:38.390 – 23 laps
  4. Carlos Sainz – 1:38.447 – 14 laps
  5. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:38.455 – 17 laps
  6. Max Verstappen – 1:38.504 – 22 laps
  7. Fernando Alonso – 1:38.598 – 18 laps
  8. Felipe Nasr – 1:38.628 – 17 laps
  9. Daniil Kvyat – 1:38.661 – 17 laps
  10. Felipe Massa – 1:38.790 -21 laps
  11. Sergio Perez – 1:38.793 – 15 laps
  12. Pastor Maldonado – 1:38.842 – 23 laps
  13. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:39.187 – 20 laps
  14. Jolyon Palmer – 1:39.281 – 31 laps
  15. Nico Rosberg – 1:39.293 – 23 laps
  16. Lewis Hamilton – 1:39.532 – 22 laps
  17. Marcus Ericsson – 1:39.534 – 21 laps
  18. Will Stevens – 1:42.973 – 12 laps
  19. Roberto Merhi – 1:44.265 – 15 laps
  20. Jenson Button – No Time Set – 2 laps

Treble for Hamilton in Chinese Grand Prix free practice

After going fastest in both sessions on Friday, Lewis Hamilton completed his Chinese Grand Prix preparations by topping the times in the third and final practice session.

Having experienced a stiff challenge from Ferrari in Friday’s second free practice session, Mercedes went back to finishing in first and second as they did in FP1.  Hamilton finished up just two tenths of a second faster than team-mate Nico Rosberg. Ferrari continued to be the Silver Arrows’ closest rival ending the session in third and fourth.

Following positive running yesterday, when they finished 10th and 12th in FP2, McLaren had a disappointing FP3 when Fernando Alonso’s running came to an end on his out-lap. His car reportedly has an engine ignition problem which the team were positive of fixing before qualifying started. Team-mate Jenson Button ended the session 15th still two seconds back on Mercedes. Hamilton complained of his seat getting too hot – a problem he encountered on Friday – while Felipe Massa had to deal with smoke in the cockpit. Following Daniil Kvyat’s brake failure yesterday Red Bull suffered more brake problems but the team managed to finish fifth and sixth.

Hamilton’s run in the first half of the session was enough to see him top the times but he went faster still on the soft tyres, beating his team-mate’s best time. Sebastian Vettel’s best time was sixth tenths off the leading Mercedes while Kimi Raikkonen finished two tenths back from that. Daniel Ricciardo and Kvyat finished fifth and sixth ahead of Carlos Sainz, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean. In the latter half of the field Felipe Massa was 11th, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, – who complained about the tyre degradation during the session – Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr and Button. Pastor Maldonado, Sergio Perez, Will Stevens, and Roberto Merhi rounded out the drivers to set a time.

Times from the third and final free practice session:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:37.615 – 14 laps
  2. Nico Rosberg – 1:37.841 – 16 laps
  3. Sebastian Vettel – 1:38.313 – 17 laps
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:38.512 – 16 laps
  5. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:39.020 – 8 laps
  6. Daniil Kvyat – 1:39.106 – 14 laps
  7. Carlos Sainz – 1:39.113 – 17 laps
  8. Valtteri Bottas – 1:39.243 – 15 laps
  9. Max Verstappen – 1:39.274 – 19 laps
  10. Romain Grosjean – 1:39.405 – 14 laps
  11. Felipe Massa – 1:39.410 – 17 laps
  12. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:39.513 – 14 laps
  13. Marcus Ericsson – 1:39.559 – 18 laps
  14. Felipe Nasr – 1:39.591 – 19 laps
  15. Jenson Button – 1:39.694 – 16 laps
  16. Pastor Maldonado – 1:39.766 – 16 laps
  17. Sergio Perez – 1:39.781 – 17 laps
  18. Will Stevens – 1:42.928 – 15 laps
  19. Roberto Merhi – 1:44.956 – 9 laps
  20. Fernando Alonso – No Time Set

Lewis Hamilton continues at top in China as Ferrari close the gap

Following his dominant FP1 performance in China, Lewis Hamilton continued at the top of the times in FP2 but Ferrari managed to reduce the gap. It was Kimi Raikkonen who ended the session second just four tenths down on the Silver Arrow.

Roberto Merhi was first out on track for Manor as the team continued to get more running under their belt. They will be hoping to get both cars onto the starting grid on Sunday following Will Stevens’ failure to start the Malaysia Grand Prix due to a fuel pump problem. He was quickly joined by team-mate Stevens and Raikkonen in the Ferrari. Romain Grosjean also got his first running of the weekend having given his car to Jolyon Palmer for FP1.

Raikkonen reported to his team that he was struggling with brakes in the early phases of FP2. Team-mate Sebastian Vettel suffered a spin but continued on his way. Force India driver Sergio Perez encountered rear brake issues during the session. Another team experiencing brake problems were Red Bull who returned to Brembo brakes this week following issues in Malaysia. Daniil Kvyat was asked to return the car slowly to the pits following a smoking rear brake, however he did not make it to the pit-lane following complete brake failure. He made light contact with a wall and brought out a yellow flag. Another driver whose running was brought to an early end was Stevens, following just six laps, due to a power unit problem.

After the initial early running it was Nico Rosberg who led the order ahead of Raikkonen, Vettel and Grosjean. Hamilton soon headed the times, however, going a tenth faster than his team-mate. When the soft tyres went on the cars Raikkonen was the first to set a flying lap. Rosberg and Vettel could not better his time but Hamilton could. There was a brief red flag period following an off by the Williams of Felipe Massa. It hampered Daniel Ricciardo’s first run of the session but his eventual first flyer was enough to see him go seventh fastest. Following the soft tyre flurry attention turned to longer runs.

Free practice two times:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:37.219 – 32 laps
  2. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:37.662 – 35 laps
  3. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:38.311 – 24 laps
  4. Sebastian Vettel – 1:38.339 – 30 laps
  5. Nico Rosberg – 1:38.399 – 35 laps
  6. Daniil Kvyat – 1:38.737 – 10 laps
  7. Valtteri Bottas – 1:38.850 – 27 laps
  8. Felipe Nasr – 1:39.032 – 26 laps
  9. Romain Grosjean – 1:39.142 – 32 laps
  10. Jenson Button – 1:39.275 – 29 laps
  11. Pastor Maldonado – 1:39.444 – 30 laps
  12. Fernando Alonso – 1:39.743 – 27 laps
  13. Marcus Ericsson – 1:39.751 – 33 laps
  14. Max Verstappen – 1:39.894 – 32 laps
  15. Carlos Sainz – 1:39.971 – 28 laps
  16. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:40.151 – 28 laps
  17. Felipe Massa – 1:40.423 – 7 laps
  18. Sergio Perez – 1:40.868 – 24 laps
  19. Roberto Merhi – 1:42.973 – 27 laps
  20. Will Stevens – 1:44.564 – 8 laps

Lewis Hamilton signals intent with fastest time in FP1 in Shanghai

After losing the top step of the podium to Ferrari in Malaysia, Mercedes returned to the top of the pile in the first free practice session in China. Lewis Hamilton’s best time was half a second faster than his nearest challenger team-mate Nico Rosberg.

At the start of the session a number of cars instantly took to the track for installation laps, leaving Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen and both Mercedes in the garage. The first time of the day came from Rosberg and it was a 1:41.052. He improved to a 1:39.574 by the end of the session. Following a brief lull in action after the first half an hour, when drivers have an additional set of tyres which they must return at this stage, Rosberg had a lock-up and ran wide. Other drivers had their own moments including Jenson Button in the McLaren, Hamilton, and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat.

Carlos Sainz complained of having no power on the straights but an earlier time was enough to see him fourth in the times with an hour of the session complete. He eventually finished in eighth place, two seconds down on the Mercedes pace. Up at the top it was last race’s winner Sebastian Vettel who got closest to the Mercedes, albeit six tenths off Rosberg’s time. Raikkonen ended up fourth, ahead of Felipe Nasr, Ricciardo, Kvyat, and the aforementioned Sainz. Valtteri Bottas was the lead Williams in ninth just a thousandth of a second ahead of Felipe Massa.

The session saw Jolyon Palmer get his first Friday running of the year for Lotus, taking over Romain Grosean’s car for the session. He finished a respectable 15th place just six tenths off Pastor Maldonado’s time in eleventh. Both drivers had ‘moments’ during the session as Palmer had a spin and Maldonado ran wide but both were able to continue. Max Verstappen was twelfth in the session ahead of Button, Marcus Ericsson, Palmer, Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg, and the Manor duo of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.

Times from the first practice session:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:39.033 – 21 laps
  2. Nico Rosberg – 1:39.574 – 21 laps
  3. Sebastian Vettel – 1:40.157 – 18 laps
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:40.661 – 27 laps
  5. Felipe Nasr – 1:41.012 – 18 laps
  6. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:41.029 – 21 laps
  7. Daniil Kvyat – 1:41.097 – 24 laps
  8. Carlos Sainz – 1:41.112 – 23 laps
  9. Valtteri Bottas – 1:41.303 – 23 laps
  10. Felipe Massa – 1:41.304 – 17 laps
  11. Pastor Maldonado – 1:41.335 – 23 laps
  12. Max Verstappen – 1:41.575 – 28 laps
  13. Jenson Button – 1:41.845 – 19 laps
  14. Marcus Ericsson – 1:41.918 – 24 laps
  15. Jolyon Palmer – 1:41.967 – 25 laps
  16. Sergio Perez – 1:42.141 – 22 laps
  17. Fernando Alonso – 1:42.161 – 20 laps
  18. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:42.184 – 19 laps
  19. Will Stevens – 1:45.379 – 18 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:46.443 – 20 laps

Nico Rosberg leads Lewis Hamilton in Malaysia final practice

Nico Rosberg set the fastest lap of the weekend so far in third and final practice ahead of the Malaysia Grand Prix.

He was just under two tenths clear of team-mate Lewis Hamilton who in turn was four tenths ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen lost out on some running after getting a puncture early in the session and he set his best lap with just five minutes of the session remaining. The Finnish driver was in turn just a couple of hundredths ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

When the session went green a number of drivers including Jenson Button, Will Stevens and both Lotus drivers took to the track for installation laps. Temperatures were hot and a lot of drivers struggled with front tyres locking. Drivers were also complaining to their engineers about tricky car handling. At the rear of the times Roberto Merhi was within 107% but team-mate Will Stevens was outside the necessary time. There were plenty of close battles up and down the order, including between team-mates. While Mercedes are still ahead Ferrari appear to be closer while Williams are still close behind them. The times around the drop zone between Q3 and Q2 were also close with the likes of Force India and McLaren fighting for position.

Free practice three times:

  1. Nico Rosberg – 1:39.690 – 13 laps
  2. Lewis Hamilton – 1:39.874 – 10 laps
  3. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:40.245 – 9 laps
  4. Sebastian Vettel – 1:40.266 – 13 laps
  5. Felipe Massa – 1:40.391 – 14 laps
  6. Valtteri Bottas – 1:40.406 – 15 laps
  7. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:40.590 – 19 laps
  8. Carlos Sainz – 1:40.601 – 19 laps
  9. Max Verstappen – 1:40.989 – 18 laps
  10. Marcus Ericsson – 1:41.200 – 19 laps
  11. Romain Grosjean – 1:41.206 – 16 laps
  12. Pastor Maldonado – 1:41.592 – 18 laps
  13. Daniil Kvyat – 1:41.776 – 14 laps
  14. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:41.804 – 15 laps
  15. Fernando Alonso – 1:41.991 – 13 laps
  16. Sergio Perez – 1:42.100 – 14 laps
  17. Felipe Nasr – 1:42.117 – 18 laps
  18. Jenson Button – 1:42.319 – 13 laps
  19. Roberto Merhi – 1:46.647 – 9 laps
  20. Will Stevens – 1:47.059 – 6 laps