Sebastian Vettel edged team-mate Charles Leclerc by 0.035s as Ferrari continued to dominate the free practice sessions for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The early running in Friday's early evening session was made by Mercedes with Valtteri Bottas topping the timesheet with a lap of 1:30.124 set on medium tyres. That left the Australian Grand Prix winner 0.079s ahead of FP1’s quickest man Charles Leclerc. Lewis Hamilton was third.
Ferrari then took the initiative, sending both its drivers out on soft tyres for performance runs just before the half-hour mark. Vettel quickly moved into P1 with a lap of 1:28.942. Leclerc then took second place with a lap of 1:29.083.
Bottas and Hamilton then put in their performance runs, but neither could get near the times set by the Ferraris. Bottas’ first attempt was not perfect and he required a second lap to find a time. But that stage Hamilton had claimed P3 with a lap of 1:29.449, six tenths of a second adrift of Vettel. Bottas then slotted into P3, a tenth off Hamilton.
Curiously, Ferrari then opted to put in a second performance run, which allowed Vettel to reset the benchmark at 1:28.846, three hundredths of a second ahead of Leclerc.
Fifth place in the session went to Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg who posted a useful time of 1:29.669, just a tenth of a second slower than Bottas’ best. The German’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo had a trickier outing, finishin in 15thplace and two seconds off the P1 pace.
It might have be3en expected that Red Bull would be closest to challenging Mercedes but Max Verstappen was unable to put together a flawless lap and so finished five hundredths of a second behind Hulkenberg
Verstappen’s team-mate Pierre Gasly had a difficult session as he failed to get the most from his tyres and finished in P12, 0.7s behind his team-mate.
Haas’s Kevin Magnussen too seventh place ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris. The rookie driver finished 0.051s ahead of the second Haas of Romain Grosjean and 0.175s ahead of McLaren teram-mate Carlos Sainz who finished in P11. Tenth place in the session went to Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso.
2019 FIA Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 32 1:28.846
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 32 1:28.881 0.035
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 33 1:29.449 0.603
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 36 1:29.557 0.711
5 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 32 1:29.669 0.823
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 34 1:29.725 0.879
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas 33 1:30.000 1.154
8 Lando Norris McLaren 25 1:30.017 1.171
9 Romain Grosjean Haas 34 1:30.068 1.222
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 36 1:30.093 1.247
11 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren 33 1:30.192 1.346
12 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 31 1:30.429 1.583
13 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 36 1:30.458 1.612
14 Sergio Perez Racing Point 32 1:30.716 1.870
15 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 30 1:30.848 2.002
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 6 1:31.088 2.242
17 Lance Stroll Racing Point 31 1:31.129 2.283
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 10 1:31.144 2.298
19 George Russell Williams 32 1:31.904 3.058
20 Robert Kubica Williams 37 1:32.932 4.086
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc topped the timesheet in the opening practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix beating team-mate Sebastian Vettel by 0.236s.
The Ferrari duo ended the 90-minute session more than seven tenths ahead of chief rivals Mercedes, for whom Valtteri Bottas was quickest.
The pace of the Italian squad was a return to the good for the team had shown in pre-season testing but which had been surprisingly absent at the season-opener two weeks ago in Australia.
Mercedes made the early running at the Sakhir circuit with Bottas and Lewis Hamilton using medium tyres to outpace both Ferrari drivers who chose to run on soft compound Pirellis.
After their initialy soundings of the conditions the Ferrari pair then stretched their legs, with Vettel leading the way with a time of 1:31.747 and Leclerc slotting into second, 0.137s down on his team-mate.
Mercedes responded, and when they bolted on soft tyres Bottas returned to P1 with a lap of 1:31.328. Hamilton followed, slotting into P2 but almost three tenths behind his team-mate.
The Silver Arrows’ hold on the top two spots didn’t last long, however, as bothg Ferrari’s soon emerged on fresh softs. Vettel too spot top with a lap of 1:30.617 but then Leclerc went quicker to claim P1 with a lap of 1:30.354.
The Mercedes pair were followed on the timesheet by the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly. Verstappen finished the session 1.3s off Leclerc’s pace with new team-mate Gasly a little under two tenths of a second further back.
Carlos Sainz was in impressive form for McLaren setting a best time of 1:31.952 to take seventh place. The Spaniard edged works Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg by 0.088s.
Daniil Kvyat was ninth for Toro Rosso ahead of Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Raikkonen.
2019 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 20 1:30.354
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 21 1:30.617 0.263
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 26 1:31.328 0.974
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 23 1:31.601 1.247
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull 21 1:31.673 1.319
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 17 1:31.815 1.461
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren 28 1:31.952 1.598
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 17 1:32.040 1.686
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 24 1:32.339 1.985
10 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 23 1:32.385 2.031
11 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 19 1:32.401 2.047
12 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas 21 1:32.602 2.248
13 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 24 1:32.874 2.520
14 Sergio Perez Racing Point 20 1:32.885 2.531
15 Lando Norris McLaren 29 1:32.945 2.591
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 22 1:32.949 2.595
17 Romain Grosjean Haas 22 1:32.994 2.640
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point 16 1:33.518 3.164
19 George Russell Williams 26 1:34.188 3.834
20 Robert Kubica Williams 27 1:34.253 3.899