Rosberg sets the pace in Bahrain practice

Fri Apr 1, 2016 2:36pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

MANAMA (Reuters) - Championship leader Nico Rosberg lapped more than a second quicker than last year's pole position time as Mercedes dominated Bahrain Grand Prix practice on Friday.

The German, who is chasing his fifth victory in a row after winning Formula One's season-opener in Australia and the last three races of 2015, led both sessions with triple champion team mate Lewis Hamilton second.

Rosberg's best lap of one minute 31.001 seconds, in the floodlit evening session at the Sakhir circuit compared to Hamilton's 2015 pole of 1.32.671.

"I couldn't wait to get back in the car after a great weekend in Melbourne and I felt really good out there," said Rosberg.

"It's been an encouraging first day for the team. We were very quick on one lap and also on the longer runs, so I'm really looking forward to qualifying and the race."

Hamilton, winner for the past two years in Bahrain, was the only other driver to lap below the 1:32 mark with a best effort of 1:31.242 and he agreed the Mercedes was performing impressively.

"There were no surprises or issues to report throughout both practice sessions, which is always a good sign," said the Briton. "There's some work to do tonight in terms of finding a few improvements from the car and also my driving style."

Jenson Button produced a third best time of 1:32.281 on the super-soft tires, his lap just what McLaren wanted in the home of their major shareholders.   Continued...

Formula One - Bahrain Grand Prix - Sakhir, Bahrain - 01/04/16 - Mercedes F1 driver Nico Rosberg of Germany drives during the first practice. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed.