Formula 1

Vettel tops times in inconclusive FP1 session

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Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari. Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel topped the times in the first practice session of the weekend ahead of the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix, four tenths of a second clear of Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo, in the sweltering Sakhir sunshine.

The German set a time of 1:32.697 to take the top spot on a set of soft tyres, with Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver Lewis Hamilton down in tenth place, having set his soft tyre time much earlier in the session, and when the track was much more slippery.  The Brit immediately went on to long runs after setting his flying lap, so it is also likely he was carrying a bit more fuel than the German.

Ricciardo lined up second fastest, four tenths down on the Ferrari, with team-mate Max Verstappen in third, a further four tenths back. Sahara Force India Formula 1 Team driver Sergio Perez was a strong fourth, with the Silverstone based team having brought some aero updates with them this weekend.

Williams Martini Racing driver Felipe Massa was fifth, despite struggling with grip for the majority of the session. A big spin down at turn thirteen with just ten minutes of the session to go, saw the Brazilian report he had lost the brakes completely, as the FW40 snapped back at the Williams driver, smoke streaming from the tyres.

Team-mate Lance Stroll, was just one tenth down on Massa in sixth, the Canadian also struggling to cope with the slippery surface during FP1.

As the weekend goes on the grip levels will up, and when we get to qualifying and the race itself, the temperatures will also be much cooler, which will help the drivers with running. The early practice sessions are therefore not overly representative of the conditions expected later in the weekend.

Force India driver Esteban Ocon was seventh, ahead of McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Fernando Alonso, who was just four hundredths of a second off the pace of the Frenchman, in what is proving to be a very tight midfield pack.

Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean, who was not enjoying such a smooth ride in the VF17 here in Bahrain as he had done in China, was ninth, just one tenth up on Hamilton, who completed the top ten.

Danill Kvyat was the first of the Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers in eleventh, and one of the last to bolt on the yellow walled soft tyre with just ten minutes of the session remaining. The Russian was one tenth up on Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver Nico Hulkenberg, who looked to be struggling with the handling of the RS17 during this FP1 session.

Stoffel Vandoorne, who made his F1 debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix last year in place of Alonso, was thirteenth fastest. The Belgian scored McLaren’s first point of the season on that outing, and would have been hoping for similar success this time around.

However, after finding some good improvement to push him into tenth place after switching to the soft tyre, the Belgian’s MCL32 unfortunately stopped on track at turn ten, Vandoorne reporting over team radio that the engine had stopped.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was all the way down in fourteenth place, but also set his time early in the session, before switching to a long run programme like his team-mate. The Finn was just seven hundredths of a second ahead of Jolyon Palmer in twelfth.

Having reported a momentarily loss of power towards the end of the session, as well as having no DRS, the Brit got back up to speed moments later, the issue seemingly only temporary.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was sixteenth, three tenths clear of Sauber F1 Team driver Marcus Ericsson who was just one tenth quicker than team-mate Pascal Wehrlein, who was back in the Sauber for his first run out since FP2 in Australia. The German has confirmed he feels much fitter having sat out the first race of the season as well as China.

Carlos Sainz Jr finished way down the order in nineteenth place, but sat out the majority of the session, having stated that the session was pretty pointless with the heat at the time of day they are running, and was not representative of conditions they would experience during the race.

It was a bad day at the office for Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen who finished at the bottom of the timing board, having came to a halt on track just after turn thirteen, with smoke billowing from the back of the SF70-H with forty minutes of the FP1 session gone. That stoppage ended the Finn’s running early, having completed just six laps prior to the engine blow out.

2017 Bahrain Grand Prix – FP1 Results

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