Bottas: It's not all about Hamilton and Vettel

Bottas: It's not all about Hamilton and Vettel

Bottas: It's not all about Hamilton and Vettel

Both like this track and, with evenly matched cars, will be expecting another victory.

Kimi Raikkonen overcame his engine troubles in FP2 to finish fourth quickest, while Lewis Hamilton was fifth in a frustrating session for the Brit which included a near-miss with Renault's Nico Hulkenberg.

Like fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari, Bottas has been out-qualified and out-raced by his teammate on both occasions this season but, despite sitting 20 points behind, is sure he can be a feature in the 2017 title fight.

4 - Ferrari have the most wins in Bahrain (4), but their last one was Fernando Alonso's in 2010. There is little to separate them and they are clearly relishing the battle.

Bottas, who has replaced last year's victor and retired world champion Nico Rosberg, will not want reminding of that as he seeks to move on from a spin behind the safety auto that cost him points in China.

Hamilton and Vettel are locked at the top of the standings on 43 points and it's looking increasingly likely that nobody will prevent this season from becoming a two-horse race. When I win he enjoys it and when I lose it is the same as I can acknowledge it too. We're both doing that, and that's a great place to be.

"Any one little step ahead you can get, even as a team, if we can get one step ahead on something, it puts pressure on the other to close that step up". Vettel was in the lead at that point, and still had time to go back out late in the session.

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"It's the way it should be in my opinion", replied the four-time champion. He is at his best and he is phenomenally quick. They have been the best drivers of this decade but have never had a head-to-head battle for the title before. The two drivers are preparing for one of the closest title battles witnessed in recent seasons and look to be in a league of their own.

How long the mutual admiration will last remains to be seen. The event will begin on Friday, April 14, and conclude on Sunday with the final Grand Prix race. On top of that, they now have a new major rivalry brewing. Sunday's race also starts at 6 p.m.

The dash to the first corner is 400 meters and flat out fast, and braking at the right time heading into it will be crucial.

Vettel beat Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas by.041 seconds in the second session under floodlights, having been comfortably ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo during the roasting-hot first practice in the early afternoon.

As well as the tussle between Hamilton and Vettel, eyes will be on teenager Max Verstappen after his astonishing drive in Shanghai. He finished third a year ago as well. The way he overtook nine drivers on the very first lap showed the astonishing ability that makes Verstappen the sport's rising star.

The 2007 world champion wasn't the only one to end his session early - Stoffel Vandoorne parked up his McLaren at Turn 10 after a suspected ERS issue, while Massa ended his running prematurely after suffering a lairy spin at Turn 13 - the result, according to the Brazilian, of a brake issue.

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