McLaren pace surge in Bahrain GP practice surprises its F1 rivals

McLaren-Honda's upswing in pace in Bahrain has surprised Formula 1 rivals Red Bull and Renault

McLaren pace surge in Bahrain GP practice surprises its F1 rivals

Jenson Button was in front of both Renault drivers in the first practice, before he turned heads with the third-fastest time in the second session, behind only Mercedes.

What Button described as McLaren's best day in F1 "for a couple of years", also moved it ahead of Red Bull in the Friday order.

That is an outcome Daniel Ricciardo did not expect, even if he is not sure it will last the weekend.

"Jenson had surprising pace," Ricciardo, ninth on Friday, said.

"Not him, the team had surprising pace. He's alright for an old man!

"It's still early in the season. I mean even if Jenson was on five kilos of fuel this evening, I think it was still a pretty decent laptime nonetheless.

"We'll see tomorrow. I would like to think long runs we should have them covered.

"But that's only really going by what we learned in Melbourne."

Renault pair Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen started the Australian Grand Prix directly behind Fernando Alonso and Button, and the squad was looking to challenge McLaren in Bahrain.

Palmer echoed Ricciardo's view on McLaren's Friday pace.

"I am surprised, they seem to be very quick," Palmer said.

"I can't believe they've changed too much since Melbourne.

"But you never know on a Friday what anyone is running in terms of a fuel load and engine mode as well.

"We've seen it before - they can be quite quick on a Friday and suddenly average on a Saturday, or maybe they've taken a good step are just genuinely quick.

"Even if they've turned up the engine, their performance is quick.

"They are looking like they are going to have a solid weekend.

"We were targeting them from Melbourne, so it's a shame for us, but I know we've something in the pocket for tomorrow.

"I'm sure everyone has, but it's practice, so we shall see."

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