FP1 in Bahrain is much like FP1 in Singapore – a session prior to nightfall at a night-race is always unrepresentative and as such, Kimi Raikkonen table topping attempt was relatively unrepresentative. However, with FP2 kicking off at the same time as Sunday’s race, the second session of the day was far more meaningful and with Ferrari posting impressive long-run times once again, it seems that Bahrain could be a similar story to Malaysia. At the very least, Mercedes will be looking in their mirrors this weekend.
Ferrari Looking “Very Dangerous”
That was Nico Rosberg’s assessment of an FP2 session which was very promising for the Scuderia. In terms of short-runs, Mercedes continue to have an advantage. However, the five tenths between the Mercedes and Ferrari duo’s is not totally accurate of the W06 and SF15-T’s relative speed, as neither Hamilton, Vettel or Raikkonen posted trouble free laps in the second session. By this token, Rosberg’s front running status may be short-lived – that is of course, unless Nico has more latent speed in his Mercedes compared to his counterpart.
It is, however, on the long runs where Ferrari excel. They excellent pace in FP1 was recorded when surface temperatures were as high as 50 degrees, but even as the temperatures fell with the sun, both Vettel and Raikkonen continued to state their intent for the weekend. The post session interviews were particularly telling. Sebastian Vettel stated that a win is “always possible” – the type of response which is in stark contrast to their policy of downplaying their chances which was relentlessly employed in the opening three rounds – including in Malaysia.
Bahrain does seem to offer Ferrari a similar opportunity to the on in which they were presented with at Sepang. The difference is the performance delta between the tyres. The option and prime compound are split by as much as two seconds, and with degradation seemingly limited on the soft compound, it seems that this will be the much favoured race tyre. At this stage, it seems as though teams will opt to limit the running on the harder of the two compounds.
This could potentially swing the advantage back in Mercedes favour, as like in China, Mercedes could be able to mirror Ferrari’s strategy. If they can both limit the laps needed on the medium tyre then Mercedes should be in the box seat come Sunday. However, Ferrari are my favourites for the weekend, as I doubt that, on a rear limited circuit, they can stretch a stint as far as Ferrari.
James Allison cars always star in Bahrain.
McLaren Show Promise
The MP4-30 may have experienced one of its more temperamental days where reliability is concerned, but when the Honda powered machine managed to post times, they were largely competitive. In fact, the McLaren seemed close to the Sauber’s, at least in terms of short-run performance and in the hands of Fernando Alonso.
The champion opposite had a far more disrupted Friday, after issues struck in both FP1 and FP2. Button will do well to match his teammate over the course of this weekend, after such a disjointed day. However, today has been full of promise for McLaren in terms of performance.
1 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:37.827
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.202
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams 0.563
4 Carlos Sainz Torro Rosso 0.620
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 0.628
6 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 0.677
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren 0.771
8 Felipe Nasr Sauber 0.801
9 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 0.834
10 Felipe Massa Williams 0.963
11 Sergio Perez Force India 0.966
12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1.015
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1.360
14 Jolyon Palmer Manor 1.456
15 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.466
16 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.705
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1.707
18 Will Stevens Manor 5.146
19 Roberto Merhi Manor 6.438
20 Jenson Button McLaren
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:34.647
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.115
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 0.527
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.630
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams 0.633
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 0.802
7 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 0.827
8 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1.146
9 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1.236
10 Felipe Massa Williams 1.237
11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1.501
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1.544
13 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1.687
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1.824
15 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 2.158
16 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 2.270
17 Sergio Perez Force India 2.415
18 Will Stevens Manor 4.484
19 Jenson Button McLaren 4.562
20 Roberto Merhi Manor 5.945