Nico Rosberg followed up his Shanghai victory with another commanding performance in the second free practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
As off-track controversy escalated amid news that Force India would miss the session because of concerns about its personnel traveling back from the circuit after dark, Rosberg emphasized Mercedes' Sakhir speed with a pace-setting 1m32.816s. The German set that time just over half an hour into the afternoon, ending a busy spell in which the two Mercedes and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel had been swapping the top spot.
When he set that lap, Rosberg went a full 0.8sec quicker than anyone else, and although that margin reduced, no one was able to topple the Mercedes.
Mark Webber ended up second for Red Bull, 0.446sec down on Rosberg, and 0.263sec ahead of his teammate Vettel, who had a near-miss with compatriot Michael Schumacher near the end of the session. Neither car was damaged, and Schumacher completed the day in fifth, a second off his Mercedes teammate.
The seven-time champion was sandwiched between the two McLarens, with Lewis Hamilton fourth and Jenson Button sixth – 0.9sec and 1.4sec off Rosberg respectively.
Sauber had an encouraging session, as Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez took seventh and 10th, split by Fernando Alonso's Ferrari and Romain Grosjean's Lotus.
Force India's decision not to take part meant only 22 cars ran, with the Silverstone squad's crew instead getting an early start on preparing the cars for Saturday and qualifying before leaving the circuit.
There were myriad minor excursions over curbs and run-off areas on the still-dusty track, but no major dramas, incidents or problems, with all the cars that ran completing between 25 and 35 laps.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m32.816s 35
2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m33.262s + 0.446 26
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m33.525s + 0.709 28
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m33.747s + 0.931 26
5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m33.862s + 1.046 31
6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m34.246s + 1.430 28
7. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m34.411s + 1.595 34
8. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m34.449s + 1.633 31
9. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m34.615s + 1.799 32
10. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m34.893s + 2.077 34
11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m34.895s + 2.079 29
12. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m34.941s + 2.125 29
13. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m35.183s + 2.367 33
14. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m35.229s + 2.413 26
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m35.459s + 2.643 38
16. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m35.913s + 3.097 32
17. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m35.968s + 3.152 35
18. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m36.169s + 3.353 30
19. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m36.587s + 3.771 32
20. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m37.803s + 4.987 33
21. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m37.812s + 4.996 28
22. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m39.649s + 6.833 27
All Timing Unofficial