Bahrain Grand Prix FP2 analysis

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

There's not much to choose between the two McLaren drivers so far
There's not much to choose between the two McLaren drivers so far

The second practice session at Bahrain brought further evidence of Ferrari’s long-run pace but Mercedes and McLaren are up there with the on one-lap performance.

We look set for an entertaining qualifying session tomorrow. Here’s how all the teams got on in second practice today:

McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari

FP2 times: McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull
FP2 times: McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull

The McLaren and Mercedes drivers set their fastest times on qualifying simulations, as did Felipe Massa. But it looks like Alonso hasn’t shown his hand yet with a low-fuel run.

Massa’s long run looks good compared with those of the McLaren drivers:

Lap Felipe Massa Jenson Button Lewis Hamilton
1 2’00.153 2’02.481 2’01.793
2 2’04.201 2’02.189 2’02.543
3 2’00.613 2’05.157 2’02.274
4 2’00.331 2’01.963 2’02.085
5 2’06.368 2’02.509 2’02.439
6 2’00.087 2’02.464 2’03.036
7 2’00.347 2’02.351 2’02.890
8 2’00.792 2’02.782 2’11.859
9 2’00.377 2’03.268 2’34.349
10 2’04.929 2’03.537 2’01.617
11 2’00.031 2’02.242 2’01.668
12 2’00.615 2’02.405 2’01.937
13 2’01.123 2’06.497 2’10.953
14 2’00.810
15 2’00.877

Early in the session Hamilton aborted one run on the medium tyres having quickly destroyed them – a problem with tyre allocations so tightly restricted this year.

Mercedes one-lap pace looks promising, at least in the hands of Nico Rosberg. Although Michael Schumacher admitted afterwards to being “rusty”, his long-run pace compares favourable with Rosberg’s.

Red Bull, however, lost a lot of running the afternoon changing Mark Webber’s driveshaft and Sebastian Vettel’s brakes – the latter losing his car under braking for the final corner early in the session.

Williams, Force India, Renault, Toro Rosso and Sauber

FP2 times: Williams, Renault, Force India, Toro Rosso, Sauber
FP2 times: Williams, Renault, Force India, Toro Rosso, Sauber

Although Force India topped the times in the first sector it was the VJM03’s pace over long runs that Vitantonio Liuzzi praised following the second session. He felt the car’s one-lap performance wasn’t quite there yet. Both his and Sutil’s long runs looked very consistent.

Sauber showed better pace than they did in the morning but Pedro de la Rosa complained of poor grip and described the turn seven bump as “dangerous”. Kamui Kobayashi suffered a puncture and had to curtail one of his runs.

Rubens Barrichello lost early running due to an electrical problem and finished both sessions almost one second slower than new team mate Nico H???lkenberg. H???lkenberg also looked quicker on his nine-lap stint than Barrichello did on his ten-lapper – of course we don’t know whether they were running the same fuel loads.

Renault said they were happy with the stability of their car under braking. As is to be expected Vitaly Petrov looks some way of Robert Kubica’s pace.

Jaime Alguersuari described the new section of track as “nothing special and very slow” – perhaps that was his revenge for being caught out by the complex where he spun in FP2. Team mate Buemi missed the entire session (apart from a single installation lap) due to car trouble.

Lotus, Virgin and HRT

FP2 Times: Lotus, Virgin, HRT
FP2 Times: Lotus, Virgin, HRT

Bruno Senna logged 17 laps in the HRT and by the end of the session he’d finally managed to beat the best time set during the GP2 Asia practice session.

Worryingly, wheel nut failure brought his car to a halt at the first corner at the end of the session. Team mate Karun Chandhok didn’t do a lap at all despite hopes he would be out during FP2. He has just one hour to complete his first lap in the car before qualifying tomorrow.

Virgin were almost a second off Lotus’s pace in the second session but neither of their cars did low-fuel running and Timo Glock hasn’t tried the super-soft tyres yet.

Top 50 lap times

The top 50 times set during the session:

Rank Driver Lap time Lap
1 Nico Rosberg 115.409 5
2 Nico Rosberg 115.555 2
3 Lewis Hamilton 115.854 7
4 Michael Schumacher 115.854 7
5 Lewis Hamilton 116.051 2
6 Michael Schumacher 116.051 2
7 Jenson Button 116.076 8
8 Sebastian Vettel 116.459 6
9 Nico H???lkenberg 116.501 17
10 Jenson Button 116.516 4
11 Felipe Massa 116.555 27
12 Vitaly Petrov 116.75 10
13 Nico H???lkenberg 116.799 2
14 Felipe Massa 116.81 29
15 Sebastian Vettel 116.924 3
16 Jenson Button 116.944 2
17 Vitaly Petrov 117.053 11
18 Fernando Alonso 117.14 24
19 Pedro de la Rosa 117.255 17
20 Pedro de la Rosa 117.287 16
21 Kamui Kobyashi 117.352 17
22 Adrian Sutil 117.361 7
23 Fernando Alonso 117.415 22
24 Rubens Barrichello 117.452 18
25 Rubens Barrichello 117.455 2
26 Kamui Kobyashi 117.661 16
27 Adrian Sutil 117.706 4
28 Vitaly Petrov 117.711 12
29 Vitantonio Liuzzi 117.833 7
30 Adrian Sutil 117.858 2
31 Fernando Alonso 118.013 19
32 Robert Kubica 118.155 25
33 Vitaly Petrov 118.214 6
34 Robert Kubica 118.226 27
35 Vitantonio Liuzzi 118.364 8
36 Vitaly Petrov 118.429 7
37 Vitantonio Liuzzi 118.533 2
38 Vitaly Petrov 118.952 4
39 Pedro de la Rosa 119.075 13
40 Fernando Alonso 119.087 10
41 Vitantonio Liuzzi 119.305 3
42 Rubens Barrichello 119.305 20
43 Pedro de la Rosa 119.495 12
44 Robert Kubica 119.54 16
45 Jenson Button 119.544 7
46 Vitantonio Liuzzi 119.581 4
47 Fernando Alonso 119.724 11
48 Jaime Alguersuari 119.799 9
49 Robert Kubica 119.826 14
50 Fernando Alonso 119.875 3

Fastest laps

Extended data on the times set by all the drivers.

Pos. Driver Car Fastest On Gap Within 1% Laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’55.409 5 0 2 23
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’55.854 7 0.445 2 22
3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’55.903 6 0.494 3 23
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’56.076 8 0.667 3 28
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’56.459 6 1.05 2 18
6 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’56.501 17 1.092 2 26
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’56.555 27 1.146 2 30
8 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’56.750 10 1.341 3 26
9 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’57.140 24 1.731 3 25
10 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1’57.255 17 1.846 2 24
11 Kamui Kobyashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’57.352 17 1.943 2 27
12 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’57.361 7 1.952 3 29
13 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’57.452 18 2.043 2 21
14 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’57.833 7 2.424 3 29
15 Robert Kubica Renault 1’58.155 25 2.746 2 29
16 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’59.799 9 4.39 3 31
17 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 2’00.444 6 5.035 8 12
18 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 2’00.873 21 5.464 2 23
19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 2’00.990 13 5.581 1 14
20 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2’02.037 2 6.628 1 3
21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 2’02.188 6 6.779 2 21
22 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 2’06.968 16 11.559 2 17
23 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 7’11.000 1 315.591 1 1
24 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth

NB. ‘Within 1%’ refers to the number of times a driver set a lap time that was within 1% of his best.

Analysing practice

This is a new series of articles analysing the lap times from practice. If you have any suggestions for improvements or changes you would like to see, please post them in the comments.

Predict the pole sitter and top five finishers in the Bahrain Grand Prix for your chance to win F1 tickets, DVDs, books and more

66 comments on “Bahrain Grand Prix FP2 analysis”

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  1. great analysis!

  2. Matthew Edwards
    12th March 2010, 19:00

    Hi Keith! I’m new to your site but as an F1 fan for, erm, 40 years am delighted to have found it. I am particularly enjoying your fascinating and objective analysis of the practice sessions: top stuff.

    Looks like Ferrari then McLaren but looking after tyres will be crucial.



    1. Yeah, I have a confession to make too. Younger generation here though. I’ve been lurking here for about 2 years and never dropped a single line, so I feel I should contribute a bit more than that. I’m simply in awe of what you’ve created, Keith. So much effort put into the site, yet it’s still growing. Truly a beautiful place to visit…

      1. Always glad to hear from long-timers who haven’t commented before. Glad you’re enjoying the site Pakelika!

      2. Clever and dedicated chap he certainly is. Have everything crossed for him that his bravery in doing this full time brings him, if not wild riches, at least a decent return on his love for this sport. Well done for stepping forward and hi!

        1. Very well said, one has to realise just how driven by his passion this hell of a true gentleman is. Words fail me, honestly. Additionally, the fact that younger generation can mix some thoughts here with lads like Matthew above is just fantastic to me. As for the new season… Logical as it is, the fact that podium has only three steps, this year, brings a silly smile to my face like never before…

    2. Good to see another fan of 40 years!

  3. Fantastic stuff, Keith.

  4. ‘As is to be expected Vitaly Petrov looks some way of Robert Kubica’s pace.’

    I don’t quite get that to be honest.

  5. Do not think Hamilton will whip Button. Button is no slouch, 2009 proves that. Afterall Rubens Barichello, Seb Vettel and Mark Webber all had title winning cars but none of them could beat Button.
    As much as I hate to say it, but Hamliton threw his first chance away in 2007, whereas Button took his chance and the Mclaren drive this year is his award. I wouldn’y be surprised if a proven world champion driver was humiliated this year by his teammate, but that driver won’t be Button.
    Keith’s charts show it’s really close and it should be by Abu Dhabi.

  6. Interesting that Alonso’s early laps are better than the later in the same stint. Graining?

    1. Noticed that too. Looks like he cooked the tires. Button shows similar data. Massa and the Mercedes look very very consistent. And what’s going on with Lucious Liz? All over the place.


    it shows just how dangerous such a slow car can be :)

    1. Good ilustration!

      1. superunknown
        12th March 2010, 20:32

        My favourite description of that car was on the 5 live commentary: “It’s like going out onto the motorway on a mobility scooter!”

        I really feel for bruno though, think what might have happened if he was given the brawn seat last year…
        Hopefully he’ll get picked up by a faster team for next year.

    2. I think it only shows that the only danger consists of drivers failing to properly put someone a lap down. You’d think Senna, Prost or “the old” Schumacher would’ve taken care of that HRT with way less fuss about it.

      And don’t come with “modern drivers aren’t so bad” – I fully know that, but I only wanted to point out that the slow cars alone aren’t the threat

  8. Good analysis, no one else is doing this.
    We still dont know how much fuel is onboard. Too close to call. Roll on the race about 3/4 way through to gauge early season form.

    1. Tomorrow the teams will finally test low-fuel/qualifying set-ups, so the best times in practice no. 3 will answer many questions.

  9. Scarily clever graph. What it does illustrate is teams unwillingness to run their drivers on opposite strategies in testing at this early part of the season, which is in itself quite strange.

    Yes, running both your drivers with similiar fuel during the same period does give a consistant baseline for each driver (and is probably better to keep the peace between drivers), but better sharing of information across the garage at this early stage could provide quicker setup direction for both drivers which could be better honed individually later in the FP sessions.

    Truth be told, FiA’s testing prohibition is hurtful to the teams dev and gives us a weaker grid at the start of the season than we would like. The unknowns, whilst shaking things up, waters down the performance of these amazing machines and drivers.

    In season testing might give Ferrari or McLaren a chance to improve by 6 tenths, but if HRT or Lotus could freely test in season as well, they would improve by seconds, not tenths and any concerns about 107% rules would be gone by mid-season.

  10. Here’s my quick take on the practice sessions:

    It looks like McLaren and Mercedes have faster pace, but Ferrari may end up winning races by being more consistent over race distance.

    My prediction, therefore, is that Hamilton is on pole, with Button, Schumacher, and Vettel rounding out the top four (in some order). Massa and Alonso on the third or fourth row. I think Rosberg won’t qualify as well and will also be in the third/fourth row.

    Race win to Massa or Alonso, with McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull rounding out the top 5 spots.

    I can’t wait for Qualifying and the Race.

  11. Some time ago Ron Dennis Said the cheapest way to develop a car was testing.

    I tend to agree with that as of today’s standards in terms of cost of technology. But on the other hand, during the late 80’s and early 90’s the spreads between 1st and 3rd places was an amazing 2 seconds per lap!!!

    I think that limiting the testing days, windtunnel time, and number of engines per car have been great ways to keep the entertaintment value of the sport. No one would like to see another ’88, ’89, ’92 or 2004 in the formula 1.

    Yes, we can’t see the very best of autosport at it’s full potential, but we can see some racing.

    1. The general evolutionary trend in F1 has seen the time gaps between cars get smaller and smaller. This trend pretty much goes all the way back through F1 history. Recently there have been anomalies due to significant rule changes particularly (if you’re looking at qualifying times) those that required cars to qualify on a single lap carrying race fuel. But as I said these are anomalies and the general trend for increasing competitiveness continues. The cause of this trend is affected by a lot of things but I’m not sure how much difference cost saving rules such as the ones you mentioned would make. I think mainly it is to do with the tightening of the rules and increasingly greater technological expertise. An example of this are the high standards of reliability we see today.

  12. wonder if it wasn’t a good solution to let the new teams skip some races so they can test on their own and then compete…

    HRT speacially… 11 seconds off the pace… they will be lapped once every 9 laps (and with such a tricky car to drive, i would say they’ll get lapped once every 7 laps).

    HRT knoew nothing about the car, the tyres, the long runs, the reliability… is it really worth it to go racing like that?… surely it must be better for both the F1 and HRT to let them test a bit more?

    1. 100% agree. They’ll be some sponsorship clause or something getting in the way I reckon, because I’m sure all the other teams would vote 100% to allow them to test and then start at Melbourne.

      Lotus and Virgin have had structural failures in testing which they put right. It’s just needlessly endangering the other drivers and their own.

      1. Contractual obligations and all that…

        Still it would make more sense and they could probably find a solution if there were contractual obligations in the way.

    2. HRT won’t stay on track long enough to get lapped more than once or twice.

      I expect they won’t get past the first round of pit stops.

  13. Hard to judge the long runs IMHO. Just how long is a ‘long’ run? Could be anything from 15 to 50 laps of fuel.

  14. Sush Meerkat
    12th March 2010, 21:18

    “Although Michael Schumacher admitted afterwards to being “rusty”, his long-run pace compares favourable with Rosberg’s.”

    I don’t believe that for one second, he felt like a child two days ago, a set up break through during testing gave him confidence.

    because he hasn’t got a spare car and all the tyres in the world to use he isn’t on top form right now.

    He’s getting beating by his team mate so far and because thats never happened before its messing with his confidence, saying he’s rusty is typical racer excuse.

    1. We are talking about him being beaten by the World Champion of Free Practice in a practice session, though ;)

  15. Anywhere to get speed trap info from?

    I know Hamilton with his fancy stalling blown rear wing was fastest but I’d like to see everyone’s results.

  16. Nice analysis, will help me to make my mind up for my predictions!!

  17. Guys, if the Mclarens rear wing stalling system is driver operated (knee flap in the cockpit), why did the FIA passed it legal?

    1. There’s still a lot of speculation about it but basically from what I’ve read the driver operating it is the reason it’s slipped through a loop hole, because you’re not allowed to have moving aero parts the driver being the moving part gets around that.

      1. Having said that you can now have an adjustable front wing.

    2. Because it is not a moving part of the car!

    3. Because the driver is not included as a ‘movable aerodynamic device’

      It’s just very clever. The snorkel airflow seems to act as a switch that directs *even more* airflow (see vertical stacked airbox intake) to be directed to stall the wing.

      It’s exacltly why F1 is not just a faster GP2.

      1. Or slower as in the case of HRT.

  18. Superb stuff Keith. Congratulations. I bet all drivers read You. When will u launch iphone app?

  19. Nick Someone
    12th March 2010, 21:51

    Thank you Keith.

    Cool to see the lap chart. It’s really helpful. The headline times aren’t as useful any more with 5 second a lap time variance.

    you said: “If you have any suggestions for improvements or changes you would like to see, please post them in the comments.”

    It’s very good already, but the graph of my fantasys (…and I appreciate this is hard, and would take a lot of effort) would be an interactive Flash/Java based graph. I think some good features would be:

    -To have every driver on one graph, and have the ability to display or hide their lap times with tick boxes.
    -To be able to slide the lap times done by a driver to the left or right so that you can super impose the lap times of 2 drivers.
    -To have some way to see who was faster over a stint. Maybe Hamilton did the fastest lap in a stint, but maybe Button did the stint in less time. It’s very hard to tell that conclusively from a graph. Maybe there could be a feature where you could select part of the graph and it could tell you the total time taken to do those laps.

    …Anyway keep up the good work. :-)

    1. -To have every driver on one graph, and have the ability to display or hide their lap times with tick boxes.

      -To be able to slide the lap times done by a driver to the left or right so that you can super impose the lap times of 2 drivers.

      Thanks for the ideas – someone suggested similar ones earlier. They’re great ideas but I’ve no idea how to do them. If someone can explain how I’d be happy to try it.

      1. Nick Someone
        13th March 2010, 2:44


        I spent a little time looking into this for you. I have found a website which you can use to generate charts with several useful features. The website is:

        with it you can:

        -enter CSV data (which you can get out of any spreadsheet prog).
        -create a graph of any dimensions.
        -check and uncheck tick boxes to hide the line graph of a driver(s) times.
        -zoom in and out to sections of the graph.
        -enter times in seconds and have the graph display them in the HH:mm:ss format.

        It’s basically an online Flash application that gives you an XML/HTML file. You’ll be able to embed the charts in this site, and it’s free although there is a link to the site in the top left corner of the charts it generates.

        Here’s a direct link to the bit of the site you’ll want to use:

        Click on the CSV “Data tab” and enter your session data. If the driver is pitted, don’t enter a value and it will make a gap in the graph line.

        When you have finished click on the “HTML” tab, click “Copy to clipboard”.
        you can then paste in the code to this site or wherever you want.

        I hope you find this helpful. I found a lit of other similar sites here:


        1. Thanks for the tip Nick – am trying it out but having a couple of problem so if you have any experience of using them and can help please drop me a line.

  20. I think Fred has shown his hand. His ow fuel, end of session, clean-track times in both sessions were nothing special. He is faster than Massa with fuel, possibly, but sautees his tires.

    Relative to other teams, looking at both sessions, I see Mercedes and McLaren having a marked advantage in single-lap performance over Ferrari—and fat chance passing a McLaren in the race with their captured alien technology rear wings. Nonetheless, it seems that they will not be able to pull away from the red cars.

    Sebastian and Liz have not hit it off. Schade.

    1. Early days. Look how their season transformed at Silverstone last year.

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