Sebastian Vettel led a Ferrari 1-2 during second practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix under the floodlights after two qualifying attempts, despite making an error on his fastest lap, as Mercedes were more than half a second adrift of the Ferrari cars.
Vettel’s fastest lap in the Ferrari was a 1.28.846, and that set the German driver 0.035s clear of his new Ferrari Formula 1 team-mate Charles Leclerc. Meanwhile, the nearest Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton, was 0.603s adrift despite the Briton’s best effort, and championship leader Bottas was another tenth further back.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg impressed during the qualifying simulations, splitting the Mercedes and Red Bull cars, slotting into fifth place – which was ahead of both the Red Bull’s. However, Renault’s latest recruit Daniel Ricciardo continued to struggle, as the Australian was only fifteenth place – a whole ten places down on his German team-mate.
Story of the session
As the session got underway, nobody was in a hurry to take to the circuit under the floodlights. Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was first to take to circuit some five minutes into the session to mark the first driver to take to circuit. He was quickly followed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.
Ricciardo was the first man to register a lap, which was a 1.32.932. The Australian was quickly relegated by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who went straight into the 1 minute-30s, with a 1.30.610, however yet again his team-mate Leclerc went faster by 0.4s.
As the Red Bull’s took to circuit, Max Verstappen went second fastest and less than a tenth off Leclerc, until Valtteri Bottas took to circuit and set a 1.30.124s to set the fastest lap thus far. Hamilton, meanwhile, was still lacking, and only went fourth fastest, some 0.4s off his team-mate’s benchmark. He improved on the next lap to jump up to third, despite setting the fastest first sector.
After a brief interval, the Ferrari’s were first to attempt the qualifying simulations, with Vettel setting a 1.28.942s, leading his Formula 1 team-mate Charles Leclerc by 0.141s. The next ones were Mercedes, where Bottas backed out of his lap just after the first corner, however Hamilton did manage to hook up his first lap, but could only go third fastest and over half a second adrift of the Ferrari. Bottas followed suit on his second lap and slotted into fourth place, some six tenths adrift of the pace. Elsewhere, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen didn’t hook it up in the first sector of his lap, and was only sixth behind Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Meanwhile, as everyone prepared for race simulations, Ferrari threw on another set of C3 tyres and the two drivers headed for another qualifying-simulation run. Vettel was looking set to smash the benchmark, until running wide at the final corner, but the German still improved to a 1.28.846, and Vettel still managed to lead his team-mate by a 0.035s margin.