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Rosberg quickest in FP2 but Ferrari's still in the game


Sebastian Vettel headed a Ferrari 1-2 in this morning's opening session. However, it must be pointed out that his and Kimi Raikkonen's times were set on the soft tyre, with nobody else using that particular compound in the entire session.

That said, we know from pre-season testing here that Kimi Raikkonen was particularly impressive on the soft rubber, posting a best time only marginally off anything set by the supersoft and even the ultra.

Naturally, the Mercedes duo were next up, ahead of the Red Bull duo - which included Max Verstappen - Bottas, Sainz, Massa and Alonso.

There were no real incidents of note, Massa twice getting it wrong in T5, whilst a number of other drivers, particularly the Haas duo, were unhappy with the handling of their cars.

As expected there are lots of updates, with McLaren appearing to lead the way, its new front wing looking incredibly intricate and expensive.

Spare a thought for Esteban Ocon who failed to post a time in the Renault due to technical issues, though at least he gets to try the Mercedes in the post-GP test here. Jolyon Palmer is back in the Renault this afternoon.

As we await the green light, the air temperature is 20 degrees C, whilst the track temperature is 41 degrees. It remains bright and sunny, though there are a few clouds in the distance. Indeed, earlier this week UBIMET, the FIA's meteorologist forecast rain for this session and a storm during qualifying.

The lights do indeed turn green but it is over a minute before an engine first to life, that of the Mercedes in the back of Haryanto's Manor. He is followed by Grosjean, Nasr, Gutierrez and Wehrlein.

Haryanto posts 35.383 but this is soon beaten by Wehrlein, Nasr and Grosjean who breaks the beam at 28.595. Moments later Raikkonen posts 26.525, the Finn now on the mediums.

As Perez runs wide in T9, heading off over the kitty litter, Magnussen posts 28.040 to go second, only to be demoted by the Toro Rosso duo in quick succession.

As Raikkonen improves by 0.003s, fellow Finn Bottas posts 26.924 to take second.

Going quickest in the first and third sectors, Vettel goes quickest overall, stopping the clock at 26.306.

More problems for Renault as Palmer parts company with his left-rear tyre on the pit straight. Remember, Ocon had a puncture at the start of FP1, whilst the team had a number of issues in China, Magnussen suffering a suspension failure.

"Are you OK," asks the team, "no, I've lost the rear-left tyre," says the Briton.

At first the VSC is deployed as the Renault is lifted to safety, but moments later the session is red flagged.

After several minutes the session resumes.

Whilst Raikkonen and Vettel set their times on the medium rubber, the Finn has now switched back to softs.

Local hero Alonso goers quickest with a 26.268 but his moment in the spotlight is short-lived, Hamilton posting 25.607 moments later. Indeed the Spaniard is forced down to third when Verstappen slips in a 25.939.

Told he was P1, Alonso replies: "Ah, it's OK?" "Yeh, it's OK," he is assured.

On the softs, Raikkonen goes quick in all three sectors, retaking the top spot with a 24.176.

Also on the softs, Sainz now goes second, the Spaniard posting a 25.131.

"We're analysing Palmer's tyre issue now," says Pirelli, "as soon as we have some more facts we will let you know the cause."

A problem for Button who is freewheeling down the pitlane. "We're lucky it's downhill," he tells the team, "the engine had stopped already."

Now on softs, Grosjean improves to fifth with a 25.899, Hamilton (third) currently the only driver in the top five not on softs.

Oops! Massa does well to keep it all together as his car snaps out in T9.

As Pirelli investigates Palmer's issue, Magnussen, on softs, improves to eighth with a 26.244

"As we thought, there's a difference of just over a second between the medium and the soft compounds," confirms Pirelli.

Having posted a PB in S1, Vettel runs wide in T7 and subsequently aborts the lap.

No such problems for Ricciardo (softs) who posts PBs in all three sectors, crossing the line at 25.194 to go third.

A 25.017 sees Vettel go second, the German still 0.841s down on his Ferrari teammate. Meanwhile, Verstappen goes fifth with a 25.375, only marginally off Ricciardo's time but on the medium rubber.

Going quickest in the two final sectors, Rosberg (softs) posts 23.922 to go 0.254s quicker than Raikkonen. The gap to Vettel is 1.095s.

An impressive lap from Hulkenberg (softs) who goes eighth with a 25.453.

At 'half-time', it's: Rosberg, Raikkonen, Vettel, Sainz, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Perez, Hulkenberg, Hamilton and Bottas. Of those ten, Verstappen and Hamilton have yet to run on the softs.

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1. Posted by jasman, 13/05/2016 23:55

"Not about the FP2, but... In the post practice interviews, the reporter, BBC?, and Paul DiResta interviewed Toto Wolfe. Before they began their questioning, they graciously offered to hold the recorder of a print scribe who wasn't able to get that close. They held the fellows recorder right up with the microphone. I thought it was a terrific gesture."

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