Ferrari continued their good form from the first two races as Sebastian Vettel topped the time sheets in both the practice sessions (FP1 & FP2) at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton was second in the first session, but had to settle for fifth in the second session due to his inability to set a fast lap after he encountered traffic on both his runs.
It was not all smooth running for the joint championship leader after he suffered a complete shutdown just as he was preparing to begin his race simulation runs. Luckily the incident occurred close to the end of the lap and he was able to take his car back to the pits with the help of some stewards. Ferrari managed to repair his car on time to ensure he completed his race simulation run before the end of the session.
Valtteri Bottas was second, less than a tenth of a second behind, but evidence suggests that Mercedes do have a quicker car over a single lap. Kimi Raikkonen suffered technical difficulties in FP1 following his car rolling to a stop after he had completed just six laps. The Finn returned for the full session under the lights in FP2 and clocked the fourth fastest time.
The surprise of the practice session, however, was Red Bull Racing. After suggesting that they will again be well off the pace in Bahrain, Daniel Ricciardo set a time less than a tenth slower than the pace-setting Ferrari showing that they have made improvements to their car in the last week. However, Mercedes and Ferrari are likely to have some performance in reserve going into FP3 and qualifying on Saturday.
The fortunes were reversed when it came to the second Red Bull of Max Verstappen as the Dutchman could not complete his race simulation run after his car suffered damage from Bottas' T-wing, which broke for the second race in succession.
Where to watch live
The third free practice session begins at 1pm BST, while the qualifying session starts at 4pm BST on Saturday (15 April). Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports F1 HD will provide live coverage of both events in the UK.
Real-time internet updates are available on the Live Timing section of the sport's official website.
Top 10 results of the second practice session (FP2) from the Bahrain International Circuit: