Lewis Hamilton beaten by Nico Rosberg in Bahrain GP practice

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg tops second practice in Bahrain
Bahrain Grand Prix
Venue: Bahrain International Circuit Dates: 17-19 April
Coverage: Live coverage on BBC television, BBC Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra, plus text commentary on BBC Sport website

Nico Rosberg pipped team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the fastest time in second practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The two Mercedes drivers, with Hamilton 0.115 seconds behind Rosberg, were half a second faster than the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Williams's Valtteri Bottas was fifth, just 0.003secs behind Vettel and ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

Hamilton missed out on the fastest time when he ran wide at Turn Eight on his fastest lap, losing about 0.3secs.

Kimi Raikkonen and Pastor Maldonado
Kimi Raikkonen was fastest in the first practice session

And both Ferraris could also have gone faster.

Vettel ran wide at the last corner on his first flying lap on his qualifying simulation run on the faster 'soft' tyre and failed to improve on his second lap.

Raikkonen made the same mistake on his first lap and did improve on his second, but by then the best would have gone from the tyres.

Vettel also had trouble later in the session, suffering a brake problem on his exit from the pits and having his front wing damaged as Force India's Sergio Perez cut across him into Turn One.

The incident was investigated by stewards after the session, but no further action was taken.

However, another incident - when Hamilton and Raikkonen passed a queue of cars on the inside at the exit of the pit lane at the end of the session - saw Raikkonen reprimanded "for driving in a manner deemed to be dangerous in the pit lane". Hamilton was not punished.

Ferrari look close enough on outright pace to suggest they will be able to pose a challenge to Mercedes in the race, potentially turning their lighter tyre usage to their advantage.

Andrew Benson on Bahrain
"This could be the closest qualifying session of the year so far. Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes was fastest in final practice - but his margin over Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari was a scant 0.069 seconds.
"Mercedes always seem to find that bit extra in qualifying, but Vettel looks a serious contender for pole in Bahrain.
"And if he can challenge in qualifying, Mercedes will have serious concerns about what the Ferraris can do in the race on Sunday. Hold on to your hats."

And that impression was heightened by the red cars' race pace. Running on heavy fuel later in the session, Vettel and Raikkonen looked in the region of 0.5secs a lap quicker than Rosberg on the 'soft' tyre.

However, the amount of fuel in the cars is not known and Hamilton did the majority of his race-simulation runs on the 'medium' tyre as Mercedes tried to evaluate both tyres.

And the world champion set two laps when he switched to the 'soft' tyre at the end of the session that suggested Mercedes will in fact be able to match Ferrari's pace in the race.

Just as in China last weekend, Mercedes and Ferrari look set to be in a race of their own at the front, with Williams the next fastest team.

Behind Ricciardo on outright pace, Lotus's Pastor Maldonado was seventh, ahead of Sauber's Felipe Nasr, Williams's Felipe Massa and Sauber's Marcus Ericsson.

Ferrari set pace in Bahrain Grand Prix first practice

McLaren-Honda's Fernando Alonso was just outside the top 10 in 11th, while team-mate Jenson Button had a troubled time, managing only two complete laps before he was told to park out on track because of an engine problem.

McLaren managed to get Button out again later in the session but he failed to set a representative lap time after getting tangled up with Lotus's Romain Grosjean when he tried.

Button, who ended up 19th fastest, also missed the first session after an electrical problem turned off his engine and caused him to spin at Turn One after just three laps.

Bahrain GP practice results

Bahrain GP coverage details

Lewis HamiltonMclaren driver Jenson ButtonSebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez