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Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel fastest in second practice for Bahrain Grand Prix

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel fastest in second practice for Bahrain GP ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc

  • Ferarri dominated second practice Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc
  • Lewis Hamilton was third fastest with Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas fourth
  • Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was fifth with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen sixth

Sebastian Vettel finished ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc as Ferrari’s bid to relaunch their championship challenge began in perfect fashion in Bahrain.

The Italians were blown away by a dominant Mercedes team at the season-opening race in Melbourne a fortnight ago.

Vettel, however, ended second practice at the Sakhir circuit an impressive six tenths of a second clear of rival Lewis Hamilton, who was third.

Sebastian Vettel finished fastest in the second practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday

The Ferrari driver proved too good for his rivals as he set the pace out in the desert

Vettel's team-mate Charles Leclerc was second fastest - in a positive day for Ferrari

Vettel’s team-mate Charles Leclerc was second fastest – in a positive day for Ferrari

Valtteri Bottas, leading the championship by virtue of winning the first race, trailed in fourth.

Ferrari left Melbourne scratching their heads after their pre-season form deserted them.

Mercedes topped every practice session in Australia, before Hamilton secured pole and team-mate Bottas galloped to a convincing win.

Their mood will be rather better here on Friday evening, with the evidence suggesting it may not be a one-team race for the title.

Despite a spin at the third turn, Vettel set a lap time of one minute and 29.846 seconds. Leclerc was on hand to keep his more experienced team-mate honest, finishing just 0.035 sec behind.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was fifth with Max Verstappen sixth for Red Bull.

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton (left) was third fastest during the second session

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton (left) was third fastest during the second session

The Mercedes driver posed for pictures with fans before he took to the circuit at first practice

The Mercedes driver posed for pictures with fans before he took to the circuit at first practice

Hamilton's Mercedes' team-mate Valtteri Bottas was fourth fastest under the lights in Bahrain

Hamilton’s Mercedes’ team-mate Valtteri Bottas was fourth fastest under the lights in Bahrain

This is effectively a second home race for a McLaren team owned by the Bahraini royal family, and following a rather underwhelming opening to their year at Albert Park, British teenager Lando Norris finished eighth, three places and two tenths of a second ahead of Carlos Sainz.

Norris’ session, however, was brought to a premature end following a problem with his Renault engine.

Williams are having a grim time of it this year. Their car was not ready in time for testing, and were comfortably the slowest team in Melbourne.

Their troubles continued in the desert, with British novice George Russell and team-mate Robert Kubica 19th and 20th. Remarkably, there is a 60 per cent chance of rain affecting qualifying on Saturday.

McLaren’s British teenager Lando Norris was eighth – two tenths quicker than his team-mate

Williams endured a difficult session with Polish driver Robert Kubica finishing 20th

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