Nico Rosberg continued to hold sway at the top of the timesheets in second free practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, but while Mercedes was able to stretch out a 1.2secs lead over the competition it was Jenson Button's McLaren that emerged as the surprise best of the rest.

Having exerted a mammoth 1.8secs lead over the competition in FP1, Rosberg continued to impress in the Mercedes W07, the move onto the super-soft tyres showing little let up in the car's performance advantage. His final time of 1min 31.001secs is already 1.5secs faster than Hamilton's pole from 2015.

Indeed, it has been a strong day for the German, comfortably out-performing team-mate Lewis Hamilton in both sessions as the defending champion followed behind 0.2secs adrift on his best effort.

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However, if Mercedes' advantage may look ominous out front, things appear somewhat more interesting behind as Button produced an against-form lap to put his McLaren-Honda third fastest, 1.2secs adrift of the lead but two tenths up on fourth place man Max Verstappen in Toro Rosso, the Dutchman recovering from an off at turn one in the final stages to show strongly, well ahead of 13th place Carlos Sainz.

A frustrating evening for Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen led the way for the Scuderia, but sixth place Sebastian Vettel ran wide at the final corner of his super-soft lap before a loose wheel in the closing stages saw him end the session on the sidelines. Even so, though 1.6secs adrift, Vettel's lap was set on the soft tyre.

Red Bull and Williams rounded out the top ten, with Daniil Kvyat leading Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa.

With Button further up the order than anticipated, F1 debutant Stoffel Vandoorne was still a noteworthy 11th as he completed his first day in the McLaren-Honda MP4-31, seven tenths adrift of his team-mate.

Elsewhere, Romain Grosjean hit trouble for Haas after part of his front-wing snapped over the kerbs in the closing stages of the session before his VF16 appeared to show mechanical issues when it returned to the circuit.