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F1 Bahrain GP: Ricciardo quickest in first practice from Norris and Piastri

RB driver Daniel Ricciardo led McLaren’s Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri in first practice for Formula 1’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, where the typical frontrunning teams avoided any soft-trye running.

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

RB and McLaren were only joined by Sauber in running the softs in FP1, which ended with Yuki Tsunoda fourth ahead of Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen in fifth and sixth for Aston Martin and Red Bull respectively.

Most of the pack headed out immediately at the start of the one-hour session where windy conditions prevailed in relatively cool temperatures for F1’s visit to the Sakhir track in the high teens, with all the early running conducted on the medium tyres – the C2 variety at last weekend’s test.

The high number of cars on track early meant the lead changed hands rapidly through the first phase, before Verstappen took command at the top.

The Dutchman had been held in the pits longest of all before he joined the fray with the end of the opening 10 minutes remaining.

He duly shot to the top of the times with his first effort – a 1m33.900s compared to the 1m38.955 that Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg had established as the opening benchmark as he led the pack out then pits initially.

The pack continued to pound around through the opening phase, with both Red Bull drivers making brief visits to the pits for front wing flap adjustments to aid their handling, as Verstappen in particular was complaining his RB20 initially felt “miles off”.

After the Mercedes pair had continued to find time as their opening runs continued, Hamilton got to 0.025s of Verstappen’s leading time before George Russell deposed the world champion with a 1m33.749s.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

But that advantage lasted only a few seconds as Verstappen, having returned to the action following his trip to the pits, moved ahead again on a 1m33.535s before most of the drivers headed back to their garages and a lull in action ensued.

Before the 30-minute mark was hit, Piastri led the switch to the C3 softs and he used the red-walled rubber to post a new benchmark of 1m33.113s – 0.422s ahead of Verstappen’s previous best.

Piastri’s team-mate, Norris, then produced his own soft tyre flier just past the halfway point to go quickest on a 1m32.901s, as the previous frontrunners returned to the track but still running the medium tyres.

Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez quickly registered better times on the mediums, but not enough to dislodge the McLarens, while other teams moving to the softs also had their drivers move ahead.

Tsunoda’s first softs lap slotted him in behind Piastri, while in the other RB Ricciardo took the top spot after 36 minutes with a softs-shod 1m32.869s.

As end of the middle third approached, Verstappen finally improved his best time on the mediums – slotting in ahead of Russell and Leclerc but behind the leading softs runners at this stage, having been complaining further about a “positive torque” issue with his engine.

After another lull in action ahead of the final 10 minutes, most of the pack headed out again for a final blast, but still the early frontrunners eschewed running the softs and instead concentrated on higher fuel running.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

This preserved the order at the top of the times, leaving a final top 10 behind the top four of Alonso 0.324s off P1, Verstappen 0.369s back, followed by Russell, Leclerc, Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, who ended up 0.485s slower than Ricciardo with his best time also set on the softs.

Bottas twice attempted a final softs flier late in FP1, but after an improvement in the first sector on his first go he fell back and did not go any quicker.

F1 Bahrain GP - FP1 results

   
1
 - 
4
   
   
1
 - 
2
   
Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Laps Time Interval km/h
1 Australia D. Ricciardo RB 3 RB Red Bull 23

1'32.869

  209.792
2 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 McLaren Mercedes 25

+0.032

1'32.901

0.032 209.720
3 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes 25

+0.244

1'33.113

0.212 209.242
4 Japan Y. Tsunoda RB 22 RB Red Bull 24

+0.314

1'33.183

0.070 209.085
5 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 Aston Martin Mercedes 20

+0.324

1'33.193

0.010 209.062
6 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull 21

+0.369

1'33.238

0.045 208.962
7 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 Mercedes Mercedes 25

+0.382

1'33.251

0.013 208.932
8 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 Ferrari Ferrari 24

+0.399

1'33.268

0.017 208.894
9 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes 22

+0.433

1'33.302

0.034 208.818
10 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 Sauber Ferrari 21

+0.485

1'33.354

0.052 208.702
11 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari 26

+0.516

1'33.385

0.031 208.633
12 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull 24

+0.544

1'33.413

0.028 208.570
13 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 Williams Mercedes 17

+0.714

1'33.583

0.170 208.191
14 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 Aston Martin Mercedes 20

+0.999

1'33.868

0.285 207.559
15 China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 Sauber Ferrari 16

+1.054

1'33.923

0.055 207.438
16 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 Williams Mercedes 19

+1.344

1'34.213

0.290 206.799
17 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 Alpine Renault 21

+1.938

1'34.807

0.594 205.503
18 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 Alpine Renault 24

+2.275

1'35.144

0.337 204.775
19 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 Haas Ferrari 25

+4.608

1'37.477

2.333 199.874
20 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 Haas Ferrari 27

+5.069

1'37.938

0.461 198.934

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