After the unusual sight - for 2009 at least - of a McLaren and two BMW Saubers heading the way in opening practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, normality was restored at the top of the order as Williams' Nico Rosberg returned to his now familiar P1 position.

The German only featured out front in the final 15 minutes of the 90, but posted the best time of the day in doing so, lowering Lewis Hamilton's first session mark to reset the target at 1min 33.339secs. Indeed, the former karting team-mates swapped positions between the end of FP1 and the publication of the combined session times, with Hamilton dropping to fourth overall as Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli both squeezed in ahead of the Briton.

Trulli headed the list for the majority of the session, having moved to the front after the opening half hour, Having languished down the order in first practice, the Italian underlined the wisdom of Toyota's decision to test in Bahrain prior to the season, shaving Hamilton's previous best to record a 1min 33.616secs best that remained his personal benchmark until the end.

Alonso, meanwhile, had struggled to trouble to scorers in the opening 90 minutes, failing to rise out of the bottom three. However, his Renault was a different proposition in FP2 and, aided by the softer of the two Bridgestone compounds on offer this weekend, vaulted into second spot in the closing minutes of FP2, ending the day just a couple of tenths off Rosberg.

Chinese Grand Prix leaders Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber ensured that Red Bull Racing would feature in the mix when it came to predicting pole position and race winners, proving very evenly matched in fourth and fifth during the afternoon session, and only being demoted overall when Hamilton's AM time was factored in. Brawn's Jenson Button, still the leader of the world championship after two wins and a third in three races this season, was also close to Trulli, Hamilton and Vettel overall, despite temperature concerns on his BGP001 that saw him being warned to find clear air early in the session, and running without the rear wheel trims later on.

The surprise of session two came from Adrian Sutil and Force India, which ended the day eighth overall. While no-one set too much store by team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella enjoying a spell in P1 mid-session, Sutil's late rise to seventh, just four-tenths off the pace, raised a few eyebrows and suggested that Force India's updates may have elevated it into the midfield mix. Fisichella ended the session twelfth overall, a late bid for the top ten coming up fractionally short.

The second Toyota of Timo Glock, Brawn's Rubens Barrichello and Williams' Kazuki Nakajima rounded out the top ten, ensuring that the 'diffuser three' each had both cars in the leading half of the session table. At the other end, however, constructors' champion Ferrari brought up the rear, with Kimi Raikkonen 1.3secs off the pace for the day. The Scuderia, however, was among those that tested in Sakhir during the pre-season build-up and may not have been chasing times. The two BMWs, meanwhile, dropped to twelfth and 13th overall as they relied, like Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen, on their first session times when it came to the combined order.

There were fewer off-course moments during the second session, which was enlivened mainly by Nelson Piquet Jr kicking up sparks from a front wing drooping on the right side following a spin and contact with the kerbs. Of the pacesetters, Hamilton and the two Toyotas had moments as they pressed on.

The task now for Rosberg will be top translate his practice form into qualifying and, more importantly for a Williams team that has not had the fortune to score the points its potential has deserved, Sunday's race....


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment