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Rosberg continues to set Bahrain pace

NEWS STORY
21/04/2012

Ahead of today's practice session the air temperature is 27 degrees C, while the track temperature is 39 degrees. The big problem this morning is the strong wind which is blowing dust and sand everywhere, in places visibility is quite poor. There was talk of a sandstorm, as there was yesterday, but it appears to have passed by.

While Nico Rosberg was quickest yesterday, there is a general opinion that the Mercedes will not be as competitive here. This is due to the fact that drivers are unable to use their DRS here as much as they did in China. Consequently, without the benefit of its double-DRS system Mercedes will struggle to get the best qualifying positions and will therefore start further down the field leaving the German cars running in the dirty air of others and thereby pushing their tyres that little bit harder.

Stefano Domenicali has admitted that his drivers will be lucky to make it to Q3 today therefore it appears to be a simple case of McLaren versus Red Bull with the Woking outfit the obvious favourites.

There's always a lot of hype in F1, but when drivers say that tyres are crucial here they mean it.

Pastor Maldonado will take a five-place grid penalty after Williams opted to change the gearbox on his car, much like Lewis Hamilton suffered in China, and we all know how much that cost him.

There were violent clashes in Manama between police and protestors during the night however, thus far there are no reports of F1 personnel getting caught up in it. Nonetheless, the atmosphere in the paddock is palpable.

Having missed yesterday's second practice session for "logistical reasons" it remains to be seen whether Force India will suffer, however, the fact is that few blame the Silverstone outfit for its stance and everyone will be glad when the event is over and they can get out of here.

Behind the big guns, Sauber and Lotus appeared well matched yesterday, ahead of Toro Rosso, with Williams disappointing.

Tyre options are medium and soft, while the sole DRS activation zone is on the main straight.

Vergne is first out when the lights go green, followed by Ricciardo, Perez and Glock. "Cross wind on the main straight and tail wind into Turn 4," Pic is told. Webber and Button are among the early risers.

Seven minutes into the session, everyone has been out, most drivers reporting that grip is worse than yesterday.

Di Resta is the first driver to post a time, the Scot crossing the line at 1:41.356. Moments later teammate Hulkenberg posts a far more respectable 36.481. Both are on prime (mediums)… naturally.

Di Resta raises the benchmark with a 35.698 as the rest of the field looks on, content to allow the Force Indias to help clean the track. Glock and Pic head down the pitlane, followed by Raikkonen.

Having gone quickest in S2, Raikkonen crosses the line at 35.239 to go quickest, as Pic goes fourth ahead of his Marussia teammate.

A 35.116 sees Grosjean go quickest, however, Raikkonen quickly re-takes the top spot with a 34.807. Senna posts 44.531 to go seventh.

At 40:28, Hamilton leaves the McLaren garage as Grosjean posts 34.401. Perez goes fourth and Kobayashi fifth.

As the Mercedes duo head down the pitlane they are warned that it's "quite windy". Elsewhere, Ricciardo runs wide.

Having gone quickest in S3, Vergne goes third overall with a 34.977, while Rosberg and Schumacher both makes mistakes at Turn 1 and run wide.

Webber goes fourth with a 35.237, Button ninth (35.582), Rosberg fifteenth and Schumacher nineteenth.

As Hamilton goes eighth (35.456) and Vergne runs wide, Schumacher is told to "beware throttle/brake overlap". The German subsequently posts 34.552 to go second ahead of Webber and Vettel.

As Vettel goes quickest in S1, with 32:00 remaining, still no times from Maldonado, de la Rosa or the Ferrari duo. Vettel crosses the line at 34.225 while Rosberg posts 34.938 to go sixth.

At half-time, it's: Vettel, Grosjean, Schumacher, Webber, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Vergne, Button, di Resta and Hamilton. The top eight are covered by 0.769s.

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