Rosberg heads up Mercedes one-two in Bahrain FP2

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Nico Rosberg and Mercedes have responded to the pace shown by Ferrari during the first free practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday afternoon by topping the timesheets in FP2 after the sun had set in Sakhir.

Rosberg posted a fastest lap time of 1:34.647 on the option tire to record the fastest time of the second session on Friday, finishing one-tenth of a second clear of teammate Lewis Hamilton who completed a one-two for the Silver Arrows.

Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel had secured that exact result for Ferrari in FP1, but were forced to settle for third and fourth place respectively in the second session, some half a second down on Mercedes’ pace.

Both Hamilton and Vettel failed to squeeze every last tenth out of their cars on their fastest lap times, though, as mistakes at the final corner cost them some time.

Ferrari opted to make the switch over to the option tire very early in the session, giving itself more time to focus on its long run pace. Just as it did in China, Mercedes reacted quickly by doing the same just five minutes later.

The Italian team proved in the second half of FP2 that its long run pace would be more than a match for Mercedes in the race on Sunday, setting the stage for a thrilling fight between the two front-running teams once again.

Vettel’s FP2 did take a slight turn for the worse in the final ten minutes of the session after an on-track run-in with Sergio Perez. The German was exiting the pits and tried to allow the Force India driver past, only for a brake problem to cause him to make contact with Perez, damaging the front wing of the Ferrari.

Valtteri Bottas finished as the ‘best of the rest’ behind Mercedes and Ferrari in fifth place for Williams, whilst Daniel Ricciardo slotted into sixth place ahead of Pastor Maldonado and Felipe Nasr on the final timesheets. Daniil Kvyat and Felipe Massa rounded out the top ten on Friday evening.

McLaren’s drivers once again enjoyed a mixed session in FP2. Fernando Alonso continued to fight his way up the order by finishing 12th, but Jenson Button was sidelined early on for the second time in a few hours due to a problem on his car. Thankfully for McLaren, it did not end his day this time around, and the Briton was able to get back out on track in the final 30 minutes of the session.

At the front though, we look poised for another close fight between Mercedes and Ferrari in Bahrain. Pole position should descend into an intra-team contest at Mercedes between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, but Ferrari’s long run pace suggests that it could be more than a match for the Silver Arrows once the lights go out on Sunday.

Join us tomorrow at 8am ET on NBC Sports Live Extra from the final free practice session, which will be followed by qualifying on CNBC from 11am ET.

Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”