5 Apr 2014

Mercedes fastest in Bahrain practice

6:49 am on 5 April 2014

Mercedes' early season dominance continues in Formula One, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg setting the fastest times in the opening practice for Sunday's floodlit Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton, the winner in Malaysia last weekend, clocked a minute 34.325 seconds in the second spell while world championship leader Rosberg, who won in Australia, was in second spot with a minute 34.690 his fastest time.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, a three-time winner at the dusty Sakhir circuit, was third-fastest overall, just over a second slower than Hamilton with 1:35.360.

Defending champions Red Bull, who have struggled with the new technical changes for the 2014 season, had toiled in the afternoon period with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel down in seventh place, though his Australian team-mate Daniel Ricciardo , who was disqualified in Australia and failed to finish in Malaysia, took the fourth fastest spot overall.

But Ricciardo will suffer a 10-place grid penalty on Sunday, carried over from the previous race.