Formula 1

2024 Bahrain Grand Prix – Looking Back at Thursday’s Running in Bahrain

4 Mins read
Credit: LAT Images

The winter break finally came to an end on Thursday at the Bahrain international Circuit as the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season began with two free practice sessions that created more questions than answers.

Heading into the day, many were expecting the gap between Oracle Red Bull Racing and the rest of the pack to be big, but both Max Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez appeared to struggle for pace and were unable to break into the top five in either session.

The running in the opening session was far from representative of what could be expected across the remainder of the weekend, taking place as it did in the afternoon sunshine whereas the important Qualifying session on Friday and the race on Saturday will both take place at twilight and into darkness.

Daniel Ricciardo topped the first session of 2024 – Credit: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images

Ricciardo Tops the Opening Session after Soft Tyre Run

Daniel Ricciardo was the surprise pacesetter for the opening session on Thursday, the Australian utilising Pirelli’s soft tyre to give the newly renamed Visa CashApp RB Team an early season boost.

The majority of the runs across the field were performed on the medium C4 tyre, but the top four places were locked out by drivers using the softest rubber, and Ricciardos’ 1:32.869 just 0.032 seconds ahead of McLaren F1 Team’s Lando Norris.

The second McLaren of Oscar Piastri, starting his second season in Formula 1 after an impressive rookie campaign in 2023, ended third fastest, while the second RB of Yuki Tsunoda placed fourth.

The fastest medium shod runner was Fernando Alonso, the Aston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team driver setting a best time just 0.324 seconds down on Ricciardo’s best, while reigning World Champion Verstappen was only sixth, the Dutchman very vocal about the performance of his RB20 throughout the session.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were seventh and ninth fastest respectively for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, either side of Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, while Valtteri Bottas placed tenth, the Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber driver unable to improve his time on soft tyres at the end of the session despite two attempts at doing so.

Carlos Sainz Jr., who will leave Ferrari at the end of 2024 after the announcement that Hamilton will be joining the Maranello-based team next season, was eleventh fastest, while Perez was twelfth in the second Red Bull, just under two-tenths of a second behind team-mate Verstappen but six places worse off.

Bahrain Free Practice 1 Results

POS.NO.DRIVERNAT.TEAMTIME
13Daniel RicciardoAUSVisa CashApp RB1:32.869
24Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1:32.901
381Oscar PiastriAUSMcLaren F1 Team1:33.113
422Yuki TsunodaJPNVisa CashApp RB1:33.183
514Fernando AlonsoESPAston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team1:33.193
61Max VerstappenNEDOracle Red Bull Racing1:33.238
763George RussellGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:33.251
816Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1:33.268
944Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:33.302
1077Valtteri BottasFINStake F1 Team Kick Sauber1:33.354
1155Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPScuderia Ferrari1:33.385
1211Sergio PerezMEXOracle Red Bull Racing1:33.413
1323Alexander AlbonTHAWilliams Racing1:33.583
1418Lance StrollCANAston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team1:33.868
1524Zhou GuanyuCHNStake F1 Team Kick Sauber1:33.923
162Logan SargeantUSAWilliams Racing1:34.213
1731Esteban OconFRABWT Alpine F1 Team1:34.807
1810Pierre GaslyFRABWT Alpine F1 Team1:35.144
1920Kevin MagnussenDENMoneyGram Haas F1 Team1:37.477
2027Nico HülkenbergGERMoneyGram Haas F1 Team1:37.938
Oscar Piastri appeared competitive for McLaren in both Thursday sessions – Credit: Steven Tee / LAT Images

Hamilton Leads Mercedes 1-2 in Second Practice

As darkness took over in Bahrain, the lap times tumbled on Thursday evening, with the soft tyre finally getting used by everyone across the field.  At the end of the hour’s running, it was a Mercedes one-two at the head of the pack, with Hamilton ending ahead of team-mate Russell.

Once again, all eyes were on Red Bull and where they would be in relation to the rest, but Verstappen and Perez once again appeared to struggle, and it was Mercedes who ended the day at the top of the timing screens.

Hamilton set the overall best time of the day with a 1:30.374, just over two tenths of a second ahead of Russell, while Alonso was again well placed for Aston Martin in third, the veteran Spaniard less than a tenth of a second behind the second Mercedes.

Sainz was an encouraging fourth for Ferrari, which will give them some confidence that they have a competitive car in 2024, while Piastri continued his good first day in fifth in the leading McLaren. 

Verstappen continued to lack some pace as the Dutchman ended up only sixth, while the MoneyGram Haas F1 Team will take encouragement from the pace of Nico Hülkenberg, the German ending his evening with the seventh fastest time having been well adrift of the pace earlier in the day.

Lance Stroll was eighth in the second Aston Martin, while completing the top ten were Leclerc’s Ferrari and Perez’s Red Bull, just ahead of Williams Racing’s Alexander Albon and first practice session topper Ricciardo.

The first half of the session was dedicated to soft tyre runs, while the second part saw long runs take over as teams and drivers worked on race pace and simulations.

Bahrain Free Practice 2 Results

POS.NO.DRIVERNAT.TEAMTIME
144Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:30.374
263George RussellGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:30.580
314Fernando AlonsoESPAston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team1:30.660
455Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPScuderia Ferrari1:30.769
581Oscar PiastriAUSMcLaren F1 Team1:30.784
61Max VerstappenNEDOracle Red Bull Racing1:30.851
727Nico HülkenbergGERMoneyGram Haas F1 Team1:30.884
818Lance StrollCANAston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team1:30.891
916Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1:31.113
1011Sergio PerezMEXOracle Red Bull Racing1:31.115
1123Alexander AlbonTHAWilliams Racing1:31.333
123Daniel RicciardoAUSVisa CashApp RB1:31.516
132Logan SargeantUSAWilliams Racing1:31.715
1420Kevin MagnussenDENMoneyGram Haas F1 Team1:31.764
1522Yuki TsunodaJPNVisa CashApp RB1:31.881
1610Pierre GaslyFRABWT Alpine F1 Team1:31.951
1777Valtteri BottasFINStake F1 Team Kick Sauber1:32.001
1831Esteban OconFRABWT Alpine F1 Team1:32.027
1924Zhou GuanyuCHNStake F1 Team Kick Sauber1:32.048
204Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1:32.608
It was an underwhelming day of struggles for Max Verstappen on Thursday – Credit: Steven Tee / LAT Images
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