There were top ten times in Friday's practice for both Mercedes drivers while Jenson Button missed out in 11th place...
Nico Rosberg: "Our test programme was pretty good today in that we managed to complete everything on our plan. However it's clear that we weren't as strong as on the Fridays of the previous three race weekends. The car had a lot of understeer and the race will be very tough on the rear tyres. The problem is that when you want to save the rear tyres, you try to set up the car with more understeer and that costs you time over one lap. So it's all about finding the right compromise. We've still got some work to do tonight to find a good balance for tomorrow and the race."
Lewis Hamilton: "We worked as hard as we could today but couldn't quite get the balance of the car to where it needs to be. I had some issues in P1 which we were able to improve for this afternoon so that's a positive, but we need to identify where we are losing time and find more performance. We have changed the set-up of the car to what we thought would suit this track but we need to look at that and make sure it is the right direction to go. The heat here is so hard on the tyres so another positive is that we did as many laps as possible to look at long runs and race preparation. We're not as far off as we might look today but there is a lot of hard work ahead and it will be a tough battle for us this weekend."
Jenson Button: "Today's sessions were very productive for us. We completed some useful investigative work this morning before focusing on longer runs this afternoon. It's very difficult to know exactly what to do with set-up. This is a big traction circuit, with lots of low-speed exits and a few high-speed corners too, and that puts a lot of load into the rear tyres. The tyres are behaving a bit strangely here - driving conservatively doesn't seem to help their wear-life, so there's only so much you can do without damaging your outright pace. But we've tried a few things, and we'll get there. I've already got a good feeling that we've found a set-up and a direction for tomorrow that will be more competitive. There's a lot we can take away from today that will help us for tomorrow."
Sergio Perez: "We managed to complete our full run-plan in both the morning and afternoon, which was a positive, but it's going to be a difficult weekend for us. Although we'll probably be fighting to get into Q3, there's still plenty of potential for having a good race on Sunday. The team has shown before that, with solid preparation, we can run a clever strategy on Sunday, and I think we have enough raw material from today to help us race strongly this weekend. So, scoring points is a realistic ambition for us here in Bahrain."
Jean-Eric Vergne: "A hot day in the office, but it's fine because you get to breathe some cooler fresh air going down the straights. It seems our pace is similar to that in China, at the end of a day when everything worked well. It's all looking quite positive and I got a good feeling from the car. As for the tyres, the lap time difference between the Prime and Option is not as great as in China, but the heat means there is quite a lot of thermal degradation which will make life quite tricky in the race."
Daniel Ricciardo: "The first day here is quite complicated as the track is always dusty in the morning and that makes setting the car up rather tricky as the track is always improving. You are obliged therefore not to get too carried away in terms of making lots of changes. In the afternoon, we were tempted to make some changes and I'm not sure they were an improvement. So tonight, we must look at the data and decide which direction to go in tomorrow. We did a lot of laps, so we have plenty of data to study and I believe we have a good platform to work from. The Option which I tried this afternoon is obviously going to be quicker for qualifying, but the gap is not as great as last weekend. It pays not to push the tyres too hard I think. The weather? I come from Perth, so I've been looking forward to some sun for a while now."
Nico Hulkenberg: "We were able to run our practice programme as planed today. Everything went quite smoothly. In terms of performance, there is still quite a lot of work for us to do. I expected this circuit might highlight some of the weaknesses of the car, but I think there is some potential. I'm still not happy with the balance of the car, but I think we can find more performance tomorrow if we sort out the balance. We have a long night ahead of us to try and maximise everything for this weekend."
Esteban Gutierrez: "I think we managed to improve the balance of the car in the second session compared to this morning. The first session was a bit tricky in terms of the balance of the car. We were trying a lot of different settings and measurements, but everything came together this afternoon. However, we are still missing speed in the slow corners due to lack of stability and traction. We will look at the data and work on these characteristics so we can create a car with a better margin."
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