Rosberg fastest on Friday as Force India abandon second session

2012 Bahrain Grand Prix first practice

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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.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
18Nico RosbergMercedes1’32.8160.00035
22Mark WebberRed Bull1’33.262+0.44626
31Sebastian VettelRed Bull1’33.525+0.70928
44Lewis HamiltonMcLaren1’33.747+0.93126
57Michael SchumacherMercedes1’33.862+1.04632
63Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’34.246+1.43028
714Kamui KobayashiSauber1’34.411+1.59534
85Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’34.449+1.63331
910Romain GrosjeanLotus1’34.615+1.79932
1015Sergio PerezSauber1’34.893+2.07734
1116Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso1’34.895+2.07929
126Felipe MassaFerrari1’34.941+2.12530
139Kimi RaikkonenLotus1’35.183+2.36733
1417Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1’35.229+2.41326
1518Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1’35.459+2.64338
1621Vitaly PetrovCaterham1’35.913+3.09733
1720Heikki KovalainenCaterham1’35.968+3.15235
1819Bruno SennaWilliams1’36.169+3.35330
1924Timo GlockMarussia1’36.587+3.77133
2025Charles PicMarussia1’37.803+4.96733
2122Pedro de la RosaHRT1’37.812+4.99628
2223Narain KarthikeyanHRT1’39.649+6.83327
2311Paul di RestaForce India0
2412Nico HulkenbergForce India0

2012 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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43 comments on “Rosberg fastest on Friday as Force India abandon second session”

  1. Surprising to see McLaren be off the pace after looking so competitive this morning. However, they’re a team that usually gets their setup sorted before qualifying, so that may not bee too worrisome for the McLaren fans. What worries me a little more is that Both Jenson and Lewis seemed to suffer from quite a bit of degradation on their soft-tyre long run. I got the impression that Reb Bull were able to do a much more consistent stint. Will this weekend see the Return of the Finger?

    1. Very possibly… Red Bull have been far more consistently impressive this weekend so far.

      But I wouldn’t count out Webber for a good result, as he’s kept in line with Vettel throughout, and arguably has more experience in that Spec of the Red Bull.

      Mercedes looking quite tidy, too… But I’ve not seen much of their longer runs, so whether the weather issue with regards to Tyre Deg is sorted out is yet to be seen ^_^

      1. I saw only one lap of the mercedes.It did a 1:41.2 on soft by rosberg,while the ferrari in fernando’s hand did a 1:40.5 also on soft and hamilton was also doing mid 1:40’s

    2. @adrianmorse – I don’t think so. Given the temperature and how close in performance the two tyre compounds are, I expect most of the drivers (especially those in the top 10) to do a very short stint on the soft tyres and spend most of the race on the mediums.

      Rosberg has said that, despite their pace, Mercedes are struggling with degredation again in the heat so whilst I’d put money on them for a podium, a win is not very likely.

      For sure, it’s looking likely to be a bit of a surprise race again. We might even get a good race at Bahrain! :-O

      1. @mclarenfanjamm With “I don’t think so” were you referring to my prediction (fear) of Vettel winning? Red Bull look strong, and if they can start the race within shouting distance of Rosberg, I think they might be able to overhaul him.

        I think you may be right about the strategy, and I guess it depends on how badly degradation will be on the medium tyre, and whether the cooling temperatures will help in that regard.

    3. Vettel seems to have his mojo back. Apparently, the old 2011 exhaust system which he requested for – according to Horner – seems to be working for him. He is certainly going to be on the podium this weekend.

      1. @latina Erm…

        a. 2011 Exhaust system is illegal in 2012

        b. He’s running the latest spec exhaust in Bahrain as confirmed by… everyone!

        C. SV was behind MW both on fastest times and long stint pace

        1. I apologise for my *misinformation*
          Should have had my *facts* checked out first..

          1. yeah, you must not actually be watching. Or listening. LOL

  2. I read this post before reading the round-up so I din’t pay attention to who was the article’s author – and I never doubted it was @keithcollantine! Very good @willwood / @magnificent-geoffrey!

    1. Yes, top work Will/Geoffrey!

  3. logistical reasons? The team has commitments to sponsors and other entities to get on the track. I’m sure plenty of people who write checks for their operations are not amused. Sounds like a staff revolt. I heard on the radio this morning—public news radio—that there were running battles between the regime and protestors in the streets around the capital, “as the formula one cars took to the track.” You don’t hear anyting about F1 in the U.S. in the mainstream media. Until now. I suppose for some casual race fans and the general public in the U.S., F1 is now some kind of dodgy enterprise that lacks either the scruples or the resources to avoid running events in unstable dictatorships. There is that saying here: if you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas.

    1. Keeping in mind that where Islamic terrorists are concerned India is second only to the USA in their list of evil empires I am not surprised that Force India feel vulnerable.

  4. Veering off on a tangent here, but has anyone attempted to access F1’s website. It’s been down for a while. Wonder if it has been hacked in retaliation for staging this weekend’s GP.

      1. Thanks for that! It’s back up now but for how long is anyone’s guess.

        No it happened the other day too. Site works but using the main link doesn’t load for some reason.

      3. Anonymous are not amateurs. I expect they are just warming up now for Sunday.

        1. Somebody referred to them as ‘script kiddies’… that is a mistake.

    1. Anonymous has already said they are going after Formula1 this weekend.

        1. Beginning tomorrow, and lasting for the duration of this race – Anonymous will turn your web site ( into a smoking crater in cyber space.

          Whoa, this is serious. Anonymous is going to tear down a poster hung up on the wall by the F1 administration, screw it up in a ball and stomp in it for 2 hours. The world of F1 shall tremble in its carbon fiber boots – what valour, what practical politics this is! How the Bahrainis shall exalt to the heavens these intrepid nerds!

          1. Haha, that was epic.

  5. Force India with tail between their legs again.What is wrong with those guys.

  6. How is it that Red Bull, a team with two Constructors’ Championships, still hasn’t managed to fix the KERS niggles that have been haunting them for quite a while now?

    Has it got something to do with the smallers KERS unit they use because Newey designs the cars around the “mini-KERS”?

    1. @parthpb More than likely. Fortunately, for that reason, they have less to lose than everyone else.

      1. That is an interesting way to look at it.

        Let’s just hope Red Bull prefers to see the glass half-empty and does something to fix it.

  7. @keithcollantine @willwood @magnificent-geoffrey
    The sub headings on the FP1 and FP2 articles are the wrong way round. This one has “2012 Bahrain Grand Prix first practice” when it’s actually the second practice. And same with the other article, but the other way around

  8. LesterdeMolester
    20th April 2012, 15:51

    And what about that lap Vettel did that was .608 of a second faster than Rosberg’s fastest lap on prime tires? Was that on prime or options?

  9. As usual, is is a real pleasure to read the articles and comments here. Good job, guys. This must be the best F1-fan community.
    But to be honest, I can’t remember when was the last time I felt SO INDIFFERENT about a F1 Grand Prix.
    IMHO, it’s shocking to hear Bernie talking as if he leaves inside a bubble. Or to hear Vettel comparing a democracy with urban violence problems to a country in social revolt. I’m sorry: I’m shocked.
    On top of that, to me that track is BY FAR (exactly by 2,34 parsecs) the worst track of the season. Boring, boring, boring, uninteresting and boring. Add some “DRS zone”, KERS and “cucumbers”, and I’ll tell you what: Sunday will see me riding my bike with my children at the Jardin de Versailles.

    1. I actually don’t think the track is so booing, it has got some really fun and interesting corners, it just doesn’t give an interesting race.

      1. Wide exaggeration about Bahrain F1 track. Have you forgot Barcelona, Valencia and Abu-Dhabi are still to come?

        Whatever you do on sunday, I hope you enjoy it.

  10. That’s one heck of a gap between Rosberg and Webber. Undoubtedly everyone is hiding something until qualifying but I’d be surprised if many are faster than Rosberg cone Q3 tomorrow.

    1. @andrewtanner Yep,agree. I think only 2 drivers can beat Rosberg on saturday: Shumi or Rosberg himself with a repeat of the mistakes in the first 2 races. Come sunday though it’s a different matter. I expect that whatever had worked for Merc in the cool temperatures of Shanghai, might not work so well in the heat of Bahrain.

      1. @montreal95 That’s the fear to be honest and a very real one. China wasn’t much of measure of their ability on tyres compared to everyone else but Bahrain will be at the complete opposite of the scale. I expect Mercedes will struggle but so will everyone else. It will be a case of who struggles the least.

    2. What a shame if this is the race Shuie wins……

  11. I can’t help but wonder whether McLaren weren’t running with more fuel on board to help get their race setup spot on…seems to odd that in stable conditions they’d drop down the order like that…

  12. Force India opting out of FP2! Crazy!

  13. I keep hearing talk about democracy, is that the real problem? When was the last time elections were held in Monaco?
    the real issue is marginalisation.

    The event is already on so it is pointless to keep screaming about it.
    Best to enjoy the cars go by until tear gas canisters start falling on the track.
    With a clear track though, Rosberg and Mercedes look to have a very promising prospect.
    It also seems like the Redbulls have found some more downforce or very good car balance.
    Mclaren for some reason failed to maximise their earlier potential, I just hope for their sake that they’ve not had the carpet swept from underneath their feet.

    1. If the people of Monaco were being shot and beaten to death to keep the Royal family in power, we would have issue there too.

  14. These timings confuse me a lot when compared to the FP1 timings. HAM was 0.2 sec faster in morning, with track having less grip, lower track temperature. Isn’t it surprising for the car to lose time like that. maybe they were running a different program.

    On the other hand, if you look at Force India in FP1, DIR set 1:34.150, again with same difference in conditions, but that is quicker than the time set by BUT here in FP2 which wasn’t much of an improvement over his FP1 time. DIR’s time was obviously a qualifying run, but I am interested to know when did the others set there fastest times here. Another thing to notice is that for some cars difference between soft and mediums is nearly nil.

    Waiting for the analysis before concluding anything, but it looks like Force India despite missing FP3 might have a decent car here.

    1. Regarding politics
      Force India’s decision not to run in the FP2 clearly shows there stance on the situation. ITS NOT SAFE IN BAHRAIN. However much Bernie may tell them, that he will accompany them, chauffeur them or whatever, they don’t have the confidence after being face to face with an attack.

      Hopeless arguments that the incident could happen anywhere is just another excuse. Its not that the incidents can’t occur anywhere in the world, its the likelihood of the incidents happening. Metaphorically, you can meet an accident anytime, that’s fate, standing in the middle of a highway and then thinking it OK as accident can also happen to someone not there is foolish. You are not just running a business there, you are inhabiting over 1000 people forcefully, against their will with their families anxiously waiting in their homes, hoping for their safety.

  15. Article title makes an impression that Rosberg wouldn’t be fastest if Force India were racing in FP2. A weekend of crazy titles i guess.

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