The two Mercedes drivers were (unsurprisingly) the quickest men out there today in the desert, with Lewis Hamilton setting the pace in the morning session followed by Nico Rosberg in the afternoon.
Not much happened in terms of drama at the start of the day, with most teams using Practice 1 as a test session since the conditions were unrepresentative of what they would be experiencing during the race on Sunday. Lotus in particular were testing out a new front wing, albeit on one of their cars after they only just about got them scrutinised and ready for the session due to a delay in funds.
Palmer actually only managed to get out in the final 10 minutes of the session, after a problem with his car that manifested overnight put him out for most of the session.
At the top of the timesheet it was Rosberg from Hamilton who was a tenth off his fastest lap on the Soft tyre, whilst Kimi Raikkonen was having a good session in third. This is in contrast to his teammate Sebastien Vettel, who after singing ‘happy birthday’ in Italian to his race engineer over team radio, found himself struggling with brake problems for most of the session.
This was likewise for Rosberg, who complained about a long pedal to his engineers before setting the second fastest time on his next run.
In the afternoon session these braking problems seemed to transfer from Rosberg’s car to Sergio Perez, who despite setting the third fastest time from the two Silver Arrows suffered from a rear brake-by-wire failure halfway through the session, which curtailed his race run in the latter stages.
As usual the teams made the switch to the ‘Option’ tyre in the second Practice session, which this weekend is the Super Soft. Raikkonen was the first to post a lap time, improving by 1.1 seconds before Vettel and Ricciardo traded fastest laps at the top. The Ferrari driver went second fastest initially, before the Red Bull went quicker in the final sector to go second fastest overall.
The Mercedes drivers meanwhile only improved by eight tenths of a second switching to the Super Soft, which is a trend we’ve seen throughout this hybrid era of the sport.
In the remaining 30 minutes Carlos Sainz’s bad luck returned when he stopped out on track at the turn 7 hairpin. From the onboard videos it looked like his Toro Rosso lost drive on entry to the corner, prompting him to pull off to the side of the road out of harms way.