Kimi Räikkönen went quickest in second practice ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix but the Ferrari driver may be facing a grid penalty due to a possible unsafe release from the pit lane late in the session.
The Finn was quickly into the action as the session got underway and set an early benchmark of 1:30.689 on soft compound Pirellis that was later passed by team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.
Räikkönen then wasted no time in getting his qualifying simulation out of the way, being the first to bolt on a set of supersoft tyres shortly before the half-hour mark.
And after logging a time of 1:29.817 that was good enough to stand until the end of the session, the Finn then moved on to long runs. However, 15 minutes from the end of the of the session, he pitted for a change of tyres and despite frantic waving from crew members on the front right of his car Räikkönen was released back on track. Realising he had an issue the Ferrari driver quickly pulled over and stopped.
Race control reported that the incident would be investigated following the session but if it is found to be a case of unsafe release Räikkönen the race stewards hand him a grid drop for Sunday afternoon’s race at the Bahrain International Circuit.
In the qualifying runs Räikkönen was followed onto supersoft tyres by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
The champion backed out of a first flying lap due to traffic and then at the end of scrappy effort lost further time when he encountered the slower Haas of Kevin Magnussen. Hamilton thus finished the session in fourth place, behind team-mate Bottas and more than six tenths of a second off the pace.
It was left to Vettel to take P2 in the session, with the German profiting from a clean run that left him just 0.011s behind Räikkönen.
The two-by-two nature of the top positions was completed by Red Bull, for whom Max Verstappen was fifth quickest. However, the Dutchman was unhappy with a qualifying run that left him almost a second off top spot.
Verstappen finished six thousandths of a second clear of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo who had a near miss with Bottas during the session. The Australian was on a quick lap when he came across the Mercedes on a slow lap but on the racing line. Bottas was quick to point out over the radio that his team had given him no information about Ricciardo’s approach. The Red Bull driver was understandably unimpressed, however.
Best of the rest status was taken by Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, who finished half a second behind Ricciardo and 1.4s off the top Ferrari.
Behind the German, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly continued the good form he had shown in claiming seventh spot in the opening session by taking eighth place in the evening and beating the McLaren pairing of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne who finished ninth and tenth respectively.
2018 Bahrain Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:29.817 32
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:29.828 0.011 37
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:30.380 0.563 31
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.472 0.655 32
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:30.745 0.928 32
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:30.751 0.934 31
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:31.220 1.403 34
8 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:31.232 1.415 38
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:31.282 1.465 29
10 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:31.422 1.605 35
11 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:31.591 1.774 33
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:31.601 1.784 34
13 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:31.809 1.992 31
14 Sergio Perez Force India 1:31.868 2.051 34
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:31.969 2.152 35
16 Charles Leclerc Sauber 1:32.372 2.555 37
17 Lance Stroll Williams 1:32.382 2.565 30
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1:32.474 2.657 37
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:32.733 2.916 32
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:32.908 3.091 38