Nico Rosberg bounced back from a crash in FP1 to finish at the head of the field in the second practice for the Singapore Grand Prix.
A mistake towards the end of first practice saw Rosberg damage the front-end of his Mercedes Formula 1 car, leaving his crew with a repair job to complete ahead of FP2.
Rosberg was able to take full part in second practice thanks to the efforts of his team, whom he rewarded by finishing as the fastest driver.
A quickest lap of 1:44.152 saw Rosberg finish almost three-tenths of a second clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in second place, as Mercedes wrestled back control at the front of the field.
Red Bull had impressed in first practice with Max Verstappen heading up a one-two finish, but the Dutchman had to settle for third in FP2, narrowly edging out Daniel Ricciardo in the sister RB12 car.
Sebsatian Vettel finished fifth for Ferrari and over a second off the pace by virtue of a setup issue, while Nico Hulkenberg was sixth as the lead Force India driver.
Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton had a troubled session, finishing seventh-fastest and having his running cut short after a hydraulic issue reared its head in the final 30 minutes of running.
Carlos Sainz Jr. replicated his FP1 pace to finish eighth ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Toro Rosso teammate Daniil Kvyat, who rounded out the top 10.
After sitting out FP1, Romain Grosjean had more issues in FP2 after spinning into the wall at the final corner. The Frenchman’s Haas VF-16 car sustained a broken rear wing, leaving him 19th in the final standings.
Valtteri Bottas nipped Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Silverstone qualifying Saturday to maintain the team’s hammerlock on F1 results this season while Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise in third.
Hulkenberg is filling in for Sergio Perez for the second consecutive race while the Racing Point driver recovers from coronavirus.
It’s the best F1 start since 2016 for Hulkenberg, who was left without a full-time ride after the 2019 season. He finished 20th at Silverstone last week when an engine problem on the grid prevented him ftaking the green.
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“The last seven to eight days have been crazy,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “This weekend I felt much better prepared. Q3 was just head down, full beans, and give it whatever I had.
“I’m a bit surprised to be standing here, but there’s a big smile on my face.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth and will be among the field trying to derail the Mercedes duo that has won the first four races of an F1 season delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Feels good,” Bottas said after nipping Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second on his final lap for his 13th career pole position. ” I just love qualifying especially, when it goes well. Proud to drive this car. The race pace is there, so our first job is to get a good start off the line tomorrow and go from there.”
The impressive lap came two days after Bottas, who won the season opener in Austria, announced a one-year contract extension with the team.
Mercedes also is set to begin negotiating a new deal with Hamilton, who has won the past three races in F1 but was disappointed Saturday.
“Valtteri did a great job, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect last lap,” he said. “I don’t think many teams will be doing a one-stop race tomorrow so let’s wait and see how things turn out.”