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1-min read

Rosberg edges Hamilton as Mercedes dominates in Bahrain

Nico Rosberg kept the upper hand on his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by setting the fastest time in Friday's practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix, as Formula One's top team dominated again.

Associated Press

Updated:April 1, 2016, 10:52 PM IST
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Rosberg edges Hamilton as Mercedes dominates in Bahrain
Nico Rosberg kept the upper hand on his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by setting the fastest time in Friday's practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix, as Formula One's top team dominated again.
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Sakhir: Nico Rosberg kept the upper hand on his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by setting the fastest time in Friday's practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix, as Formula One's top team dominated again.

Rosberg, who won the season-opening race in Australia and the final three races of last season, set a best time of 1 minute, 31.001 seconds at the Sakhir circuit, a quarter of a second better than Hamilton.

Mercedes was in a league of its own, with third-place Jenson Button of McLaren 1.3 seconds off Rosberg's time. That was an encouraging performance for McLaren, which has been on a slow development path with engine partner Honda since last season.

Ferrari, which could be Mercedes' main challenger this season, was further off the pace. Kimi Raikkonen was fifth, followed by Sebastian Vettel who was forced to park the car trackside after a reliability failure.

Vettel initially said over the team radio that he "lost drive" but later remarked that "the left rear corner is not tight." When the car was being lifted by a crane, the angle of the wheel looked off center.

Max Verstappen was fourth fastest for Toro Rosso, the Red Bull pair Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo was seventh and ninth respectively, and Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa eight and 10th.

Friday's two practice sessions were held in unfamiliar cool conditions in the desert kingdom — around 20 degrees Celsius (68 F) for most of the evening session. With the same three tire compounds in use here as in Australia — and similar temperatures — a similar result is on the cards.

The heavily criticized rolling elimination format for qualifying was retained from Melbourne despite strong objections from all teams, as they were not able to unanimously agree over reverting to last year's system or tweaking the new format.

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