Coming off his first F1 Grand Prix win, Mercedes AMG driver Nico Rosberg was fastest in the second practice session for the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix.
The first day’s practice session aren’t indicative of race pace at all—for most teams they are testing sessions, for trying new parts, new set-ups, different tire compounds and different fuel loads. Still, there is a psychological edge, particularly for a team like Mercedes—or for Red Bull, which has not come close to its domination of the past two seasons. Having both drivers going well might mean that Red Bull has finally gotten a handle on the new car.
Lewis Hamilton, who was quickest in P1, was fourth in P2; his McLaren teammate Jenson Button was sixth, just ahead of Kamui Kobayashi’s Williams.
Michael Schumacher in the other Mercedes finished fifth. Fernando Alonso was the fastest Ferrari in eighth.
Tire management could be the decisive factor in Sunday’s race. With temperatures higher and the air dryer than at any race in the schedule so far, tire degradation will be on every team strategist’s mind.
“Looking after the tires here is going to be a real challenge. The track surface is extremely hot, and the amount of energy that goes through the tires under braking is incredible: the temperatures keep on rising until it feels just like driving on an ice-rink,” said McLaren driver Jenson Button in a team press release. “Tire degradation will be a big issue for everyone around here and the weekend will be all about who can look after the ties the best.
“Wind direction also played a huge role today. On one lap, there’d be a headwind going into Turn Four, the next lap, it’d be a tailwind, then a crosswind. And that makes a big difference around the circuit.”