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Friday analysis - do Ferrari have ‘dangerous’ pace?

17 Apr 2015

The slippery nature of the Bahrain International Circuit played havoc in the first session, as everyone struggled for grip and experienced front brake locking. Things were better in the second session, but there were still plenty of cars seen to be running wide. What remained unclear after 180 minutes of running was just how big a threat Ferrari will pose to Mercedes this weekend. We take a team-by-team look at day one in Sakhir…

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg, 1m 39.293s, P15/1m 34.647s, P1
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 39.532s, P16/1m 34.762s, P2

After deciding only to run one set of medium tyres per car in FP1, Mercedes got going in FP2. Hamilton was fastest on the medium tyre and would have been on the soft too, but for a costly lock-up in Turn 8 which cost him more than the 0.115s by which Rosberg subsequently beat him to fastest time. But though the silver cars had good pace over one lap, both drivers said they thought that Ferrari’s long-run pace was “dangerous.”

Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 37.827s, P1/1m 35.174s, P3
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 38.029s, P2/1m 35.277s, P4

Ferrari led FP1, with Raikkonen heading Vettel after the German lost most of the session as the team investigated a loss of power. In the afternoon they led again, but were overtaken as Mercedes hit their stride and were fastest on both the medium and the soft tyre. The gap on the former was only a tenth of a second however, and half a second on the latter, but the red cars’ race pace was very strong and the team believe they will be a strong factor in the race.

Late in FP2 Vettel had a brake problem as he came into Turn 1 and could not avoid tapping Perez’s Force India; that damaged his own front left wing endplate and caused a brief red flag as debris was cleared up, but neither driver was penalised after a stewards’ enquiry. Raikkonen, however, was reprimanded for leaving the pits in a potentially dangerous manner.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 38.390s, P3/1m 35.280s, P5
Felipe Massa, 1m 38.790s, P10/1m 35.884s, P10

Williams said they hit every target they had for the day, but while Bottas said he was happy with the way his FW37 felt, Massa thought his still needed some work on the balance.


Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 38.455s, P5/1m 35.449s, P6
Daniil Kvyat, 1m 38.661s, P9/1m 35.883s, P9

Both drivers said they had reasonable sessions, but seemed more concerned that wind tomorrow could blow sand on to the track.


Lotus
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 38.842s, P12/1m 35.474s, P7
Romain Grosjean (pm only), 1m 36.334s, P13
Jolyon Palmer (am only), 1m 39.283s, P14

Maldonado had a spate of off-track moments, as did Grosjean once he got his E23 Hybrid back in the afternoon, but the Venezuelan got going well in FP2 to boost the team with a solid seventh place. Palmer again did a strong job in his second FP1 outing.

Sauber
Felipe Nasr, 1m 38.628s, P8/1m 35.793s, P8
Marcus Ericsson, 1m 39.534s, P17/1m 36.148s, P11

Both drivers had a few problems with braking and stability, but worked through them and ended the day feeling quietly encouraged that pre-event preparation had paid off.

McLaren
Fernando Alonso, 1m 38.598s, P7/1m 36.191s, P12
Jenson Button, No time, P20/1m 39.209s, P19

Alonso looked quite good at times, but McLaren also did on Friday in China, which leads one to suspect low fuel loads. Button had a terrible day, with his car spinning on his first flying lap of FP1 due to a battery problem, and later stopping early on in FP2 when his engine was shut down as a precaution.

Toro Rosso
Carlos Sainz, 1m 38.447s, P4/1m 36.471s, P14
Max Verstappen, 1m 38.504s, P6/1m 36.917s, P16

Both drivers complained about their brakes, and Verstappen went so far as to have his replaced during FP2. They later said they had reasonable, if not outstanding, days.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 39.187s, P13/1m 36.805s, P15
Sergio Perez, 1m 39.793s, P11/1m 37.062s, P17

Force India looked a little better at times than of late, but the VJM08 is still paying the price for its late debut. Perez had an incident with Vettel at the end of FP2, for which Vettel later apologised.

Marussia
Will Stevens, 1m 42.973s, P18/1m 39.131s, P18
Roberto Merhi, 1m 44.265s, P19/1m 40.592s, P20

Once again both drivers enjoyed trouble-free sessions, and that in particular helped Stevens to cut the gap to rivals quite significantly. Merhi, meanwhile, stayed out of bother as he learned another new circuit.