Nico Rosberg on Friday showed that last weekend’s pole and victory at the Chinese Grand Prix was no accident by posting the fastest time in free practice for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The German Mercedes driver managed a time of one minute 32.816 seconds for the 5.412 kilometre-long lap, beating Red Bull’s Mark Webber by 0.446 seconds.
World champion Sebastian Vettel in the second Red Bull posted the third-fastest time.
There have been ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations in the country and there have been calls for the race to be cancelled, but the sports’ governing body FIA ruled that it would go ahead.
Protests demanding political reform and greater freedoms began last year and forced the cancellation of the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix.
More than 70 people have died in the protests.
The Force India team decided not to compete in the second free practice session Friday due to security concerns as they wanted to be in their hotel before sundown.
“For logistical reasons the team will run a rescheduled programme for the rest of the weekend, which will result in the team missing second practice to ensure the most competitive performance in FP3 (the third free practice), qualifying and the race,” the team said in a statement.
Force India team members were involved in an incident late Wednesday, when their hired car was stuck in a traffic jam and a petrol bomb exploded nearby.
As a result, two members of the team decided to return home.
Earlier Friday, world championship leader Lewis Hamilton in a McLaren, was fastest in the first free practice.
Hamilton, who has a two point lead from his team-mate Jenson Button, posted a 1:33.572 beating Vettel by 0.305 seconds.
Force India’s Paul di Resta had the third fastest time. Rosberg had the fourth-fastest time in the first session.