CHALLENGE ACCECPTED: Mercedes' Nico Rosberg was faster than team mate Lewis Hamilton during the 2015 Bahrain GP second practice on Friday. Image: AP / Andy Wong
MANAMA, Bahrain - Nico Rosberg rose to the challenge by lapping faster than Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton in practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday (April 17).
The German, who has been beaten by the double Formula 1 world champion in all three races so far this season, topped the timesheets with a best time of 1min34.647 seconds on soft tyres in the second, floodlit session.
Hamilton was second overall, 0.115 slower, but ended the day with a stewards' enquiry hanging over him and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen for possible pitslane infringements.
The Mercedes drivers had accused each other of driving too slowly, Hamilton in dictating the race pace and Rosberg for failing to overtake him, after last weekend's 2015 Chinese GP won by Hamilton.
After a quiet opening session, with Mercedes focusing on long runs and clocking only the 15th and 16th fastest times while Ferrari set the pace, normal service was resumed in the evening and both men showed their speed.
Raikkonen, who had led team mate Sebastian Vettel in the blazing afternoon heat with a best lap of 1min37.827, was the third fastest in the second session with Vettel fourth.
Vettel also faced a trip to the stewards after a collision with the Force India of Sergio Perez that temporarily brought out the red flags due to front wing debris from the Ferrari on the track.
MERCEDES VS. FERRARI
The session then resumed with 10 minutes remaining.
The more than half a second gulf between Raikkonen and Rosberg at the end left little doubt about the battle Ferrari face on Sunday.
Valtteri Bottas was third and fifth fastest respectively in the two sessions for Williams with Daniel Ricciardo sixth in the later one for Red Bull.
McLaren's Fernando Alonso was seventh and 12th on the timesheets but team mate Jenson Button had a miserable day.
The 2009 champion failed to record a lap time after spinning and stopping on track in the opening minutes, and was again sidelined in the evening session after just three laps before returning later.
Mercedes is the favourite for Sunday's race, with fans hoping to see another duel in the desert between Hamilton and Rosberg after 2014's thriller.
2015 Bahrain GP 2nd practice results
1 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min34.647
2 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1min34.762
3 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1min35.174
4 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 1min35.277
5 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams-Mercedes 1min35.280
6 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) RedBull 1min35.449
7 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus 1min35.474
8 Felipe Nasr (Brazil) Sauber 1min35.793
9 Daniil Kvyat (Russia) RedBull 1min35.883
10 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 1min35.884
11 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber 1min36.148
12 Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 1min36.191
13 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 1min36.334
14 Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso 1min36.471
15 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India 1min36.805
16 Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Toro Rosso 1min36.917
17 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 1min37.062
18 Will Stevens (Britain) Marussia 1min39.131
19 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min39.209
20 Roberto Merhi (Spain) Marussia 1min40.592
2015 Bahrain GP 1st practice results