Nico Rosberg has comfortably outpaced teammate Lewis Hamilton in the first practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Both Mercedes drivers were in a class of their own as third-placed Kimi Räikkönen lapped 1.8 seconds off Rosberg’s benchmark, which was 0.277 seconds quicker than the pole lap set by Hamilton last year.

Räikkönen’s teammate Sebastian Vettel was further down the order in eleventh, spending majority of the session on the medium compound tyre, as Ferrari have had very little running with the compound.

Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat were separated by just 0.08 seconds in fourth and fifth place respectively for Red Bull Racing, while Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg was one-tenth of a second behind in sixth place.

Reserve driver Alfonso Celis Jr. made his race weekend debut for Force India – stepping in for Sergio Pérez for the first practice session – however, he didn’t perform as strongly as he did in pre-season testing. The Mexican was 2.7 seconds slower than Hülkenberg in the other Force India, finishing second last on the timesheets ahead of Rio Haryanto in the Manor.

Also making his debut this weekend, deputising for Fernando Alonso who is still suffering chest injuries from his crash in Australia, was McLaren’s reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne.

The reigning GP2 Series champion finished his first session in eighteenth position and just over four seconds off Rosberg’s best time. This was the first time Vandoorne had experienced McLaren’s 2016 car, as both Jenson Button and Alonso shared driving duties in the pre-season test.

Scuderia Toro Rosso managed to get both drivers in the top ten once again, with Carlos Sainz Jr. leading Max Verstappen by 0.07 seconds. The pair finished the session in seventh and eighth places respectively.

Kevin Magnussen was the highest placed Renault driver in fifteenth position behind Button in the McLaren, while Jolyon Palmer was a second and a half behind in twentieth.

Driver Team / Entry Result Laps
1. Nico Rosberg de Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W07 Hybrid 1:32.294 24
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W07 Hybrid + 0.505 16
2. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H + 1.834 27
4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB12 + 2.167 30
5. Daniil Kvyat ru Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB12 + 2.247 28
6. Nico Hülkenberg de Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09 + 2.307 21
7. Carlos Sainz Jr es Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11 + 2.499 19
8. Max Verstappen nl Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR11 + 2.566 18
9. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Ferrari VF-16 + 2.706 19
10. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38 + 2.712 14
11. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H + 2.779 21
12. Valtteri Bottas fi Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW38 + 2.880 19
13. Esteban Gutiérrez Haas F1 Ferrari VF-16 + 3.015 19
14. Jenson Button McLaren-Honda MP4-31 + 3.146 28
15. Kevin Magnussen dk Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 + 3.196 27
16. Marcus Ericsson Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C35 + 3.434 30
17. Pascal Wehrlein de Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5 + 4.077 26
18. Stoffel Vandoorne be McLaren-Honda MP4-31 + 4.098 25
19. Felipe Nasr br Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C35 + 4.425 24
20. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 + 4.645 28
21. Alfonso Celis Jr Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM09 + 4.993 23
22. Rio Haryanto id Manor Racing Mercedes MRT5 + 5.420 27

Image via Mercedes AMG F1 Petronas

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Josh Kruse

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