Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Bahrain, 2012

Rosberg fastest on Friday as Force India abandon second session

2012 Bahrain Grand Prix first practicePosted on | Author Will Wood

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Bahrain, 2012

Nico Rosberg continued his and Mercedes’ good run of form by setting the fastest time in Friday practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix – but only after Force India had begun packing up to leave the circuit without running a single lap.

In a press release, the team explained that they had decided not to run in the second of Friday’s sessions for ‘logistical reasons’ – widely believed to be security fears following the petrol bomb incident on Wednesday evening. However, the team gave no indication of any intention to withdraw from the event completely and are expected to return on Saturday and for the race on Sunday.

The lack of running will no doubt disrupt the team’s preparations for the rest of the Grand Prix weekend, as both Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg will only have one hour of track time to prepare for tomorrow’s crucial qualifying session. The move could also explain why the team decided to run both cars on the Soft compound during first practice.

On track, Rosberg’s quickest time of 1’32.816 was comfortably fastest from the two Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest, almost a second behind, followed by Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button, Kamui Kobayashi and Fernando Alonso. All times were set on the Soft compounds.

The Bahrain International Circuit was slightly warmer than it was in morning practice, with track temperature having risen to 40C by the time the afternoon session got underway.

Except for the Force India team, the track was busy from the moment the session began. Jenson Button set the early pace with a 1’34.500 on the Medium tyre, before Sebastian Vettel dropped the benchmark to a 1’33. Nico Rosberg’s first lap on the Soft Pirelli tyres put him comfortably fastest midway through the session with a 1’32.816, which was never bettered.

The time sheets remained fairly static for the remainder of the session, as teams opted for high fuel long runs. Track temperature dropped significantly during this time, with the track down to a cooler – but still rather warm – 32C as time expired. None of the front-runners improved on their personal best times during the final part of the session.

Fernando Alonso continued to wring as much performance out of his Ferrari as possible, fighting the car as his Soft compound tyres apparently began blistering in the heat. He finished the session in eighth with team mate Felipe Massa posting the 12th fastest time half a second behind.

Bruno Senna, in his only session of the day, appeared to be struggling for pace down in 18th behind the two Caterhams, while Kimi Raikkonen could only manage the 13th fastest time in the Lotus.

Other than the Force India departure, there were few significant incidents in the session. Mark Webber was told that his KERS had failed with just over half an hour of the session remaining while Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher had a minor near miss into turn ten in the final ten minutes.

Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’32.816 0.000 35
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’33.262 +0.446 26
3 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’33.525 +0.709 28
4 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1’33.747 +0.931 26
5 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’33.862 +1.046 32
6 3 Jenson Button McLaren 1’34.246 +1.430 28
7 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1’34.411 +1.595 34
8 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’34.449 +1.633 31
9 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1’34.615 +1.799 32
10 15 Sergio Perez Sauber 1’34.893 +2.077 34
11 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1’34.895 +2.079 29
12 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’34.941 +2.125 30
13 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1’35.183 +2.367 33
14 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1’35.229 +2.413 26
15 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’35.459 +2.643 38
16 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1’35.913 +3.097 33
17 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1’35.968 +3.152 35
18 19 Bruno Senna Williams 1’36.169 +3.353 30
19 24 Timo Glock Marussia 1’36.587 +3.771 33
20 25 Charles Pic Marussia 1’37.803 +4.967 33
21 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1’37.812 +4.996 28
22 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1’39.649 +6.833 27
23 11 Paul di Resta Force India 0
24 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 0

2012 Bahrain Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix articles