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Vettel continues to set Bahrain pace


Ahead of today's second practice session the air temperature is 33 degrees C, while the track temperature is 34 degrees.

Being that this session takes place at the same time of day as qualifying and Sunday's race, it is far more representative of what we can expect for the remainder of the weekend than this morning's session.

That said, it served as a decent test session for the teams, and exposed a slight chink in the Ferrari armour. For while Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets, Kimi Raikkonen stopped on track with an overheating turbo, though even beforehand the Finn had been well off the pace.

Mercedes was the early pace-setter, but both drivers appeared to be struggling for grip as they upped the pace. The Ferrari definitely looked to be easier to handle.

A problematic morning for Stoffel Vandoorne also, the Belgian suffering an MGU-H failure which left the Woking team with a mammoth task over the break and with minutes to go before the start of FP2 still sees the McLaren in pieces and on its stand.

While a number of the teams are running updates, more of which will be seen during the course of next week's tow-day test, Ferrari appears to have the biggest range, what with a new floor and new front wing. While the floor wasn't tried in FP1, Raikkonen ran the new wing, though the Finn's limited track time will have proved inconclusive as far as data acquisition is concerned.

The lights go green and the Haas duo lead the way, the floodlights now illuminating the desert track as the sun slowly sets.

Vettel is the third driver to head out, like the Haas pair he is on softs.

"Stoff's had an engine change during the break," reveals McLaren. "Fernando's car looks ready to go."

Raikkonen is another early riser, the Finn needing to make up for lost time in FP1.

Grosjean posts 34.286 and Magnussen 35.942 before Vettel bags in a more sensible 32.615.

"Use a higher gear in T12," Magnussen is told, "we are losing performance."

Vettel gives his usual highly detailed feedback, the German revealing that he's struggling for grip in Turns 6 and 7.

Alonso splits the Haas duo with a 34.480, then locking-up at the end of the pit straight.

2I've got a lot of vibration in the tyres," warns Ocon, "and the rear is very weak." Despite which the French youngster goes third (34.462).

Shades of China qualifying as Bottas goes one-thousandth of a second quicker than Vettel to go top.

Hulkenberg goes third and Sainz fourth, as Hamilton begins his first flying lap of the evening. That said, into the S2 he slows and aborts the lap after a mistake in T4.

Elsewhere, a massive lock-up for Magnussen in T8.

Raikkonen goes quickest in S1, he maintains the pace in S2 as Hamilton goes quickest overall (32.290). The Finn crosses the line at 32.277, eclipsing Hamilton by 0.013s.

In the midst of all that, Verstappen had gone third but now finds himself down in fifth.

The VSC is deployed as Sainz has stopped at T11 with smoke coming from the back of his car. Looks like an engine failure for Renault.

"This session, held with falling track temperatures, is much more relevant to qualifying and race," confirms Pirelli. "So we'll be seeing simulations of both."

A 33.294 sees Ricciardo go sixth, albeit 0.017s off Raikkonen's pace. At the other end of the timesheet Wehrlein posts 45.359. The German appears to have a suspension issue, his front-right wheel off the ground in every right-hander.

Around 27 minutes into the session, Vettel is the first driver to make the switch to supersofts. Understandably he goes quickest in S1, then again in S2. At the line he posts 31.310 going quickest by 0.967s.

There's a flurry of pit action as rivals switch to the red-banded rubber.

On the supers, Bottas goes quickest in S1 as Vettel reveals he struggled with his brakes, especially in the second part of the lap. Bottas posts 31.351 to go second by 0.041s, having had a poor second sector.

As Massa improves to third (32.079), once again Hamilton aborts a lap in the second sector.

A strong lap from Hulkenberg sees the Renault leapfrog Massa, the German 0.573s off Vettel's pace.

Hamilton goes quickest in S1 but once again aborts the lap, as Verstappen posts 32.251 to go fifth.

Replay shows Hamilton running wide after having to take avoiding action when he comes across a slow Hulkenberg. Elsewhere, Verstappen has a big lock-up.

"These drivers are just so dangerous man," complains the Briton.

Raikkonen improves to fourth (31.685) after posting PBs in all three sectors.

Sainz' car is back in the pits and the mechanics get to work.

Ricciardo posts 31.376 to go third, thereby demoting Hamilton and Raikkonen.

Hamilton reports that Bottas' T-Wing has fallen off, as was the case in China last week.

Going quickest in S2 on his old supers, Raikkonen posts 31.478 to go fourth and leapfrog Hamilton.

42 minutes into the session, Vandoorne heads out.

At 'half-time', it's: Vettel, Bottas, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Massa, Verstappen, Grosjean and Kvyat. The top five are covered by 0.284s.

Check out our Friday gallery from Bahrain, here.


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