Scuderia Ferrari claimed a dominant 1-2 on the timesheets at the end of the opening practice session for the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Newcomer Charles Leclerc outpaced teammate Sebastian Vettel in a session that the Italian team and its fans will hope is indicative of a turnaround in form after it suffered a drubbing at the hands of Mercedes a fortnight ago in Australia.

That being said, FP1 is not properly representative of the conditions of form guide at the Sakhir circuit, given that – like Saturday’s FP3 session – it is run in the heat of the afternoon, rather than the twilight and night-time conditions that will occur in FP2, qualifying and the race.

If the stopwatch is any indicator, Leclerc edged Vettel by a little over a quarter of a second at the end of the 90-minute session. The red cars appeared to be in a league of their own, with Australian Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas third-quickest in his Mercedes but almost a second adrift.

The Finn’s teammate and defending World Champion Lewis Hamilton was fourth-fastest, with Red Bull Racing continuing the ‘Noah’s Ark’ formation on the timesheets by placing fifth- and sixth-quickest with Max Verstappen ahead of Pierre Gasly.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz led the ‘best of the rest’ charge in the midfield by placing seventh-fastest ahead of the factory Renault of Nico Hülkenberg. With all four F1 engine suppliers represented in the top eight positions, this was a welcome sign given the Bahrain circuit typically favours horsepower.

Hülkenberg had one of the more dramatic moments in the session after a coming-together with the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi at Turn 7. The German was on a slow lap and had just let the other Alfa Romeo of Kimi Räikkönen by through the preceding corner; Giovinazzi tried to follow the Finn through by found himself squeezed by the Renault – in the process of gesticulating at Hülkenberg his right rear wheel rode over the top of Hülkenberg’s left front.

Rear grip – or a lack of it – proved a challenge for a number of drivers.Williams rookie George Russell had a spin in his Williams as he exited Turn 2 in the final ten minutes of the session.

Lance Stroll rotated his Racing Point Mercedes at the exit of Turn 4 in the first half-hour of running and nerfed the barriers with his front wing, however the Canadian was able to extricate himself from the fence and continued back to the pits. He finished the session 18th-fastest.

Another driver to suffer front wing damage was Haas’ Romain Grosjean, who succeeded in damaging his car after running wide over the Turn 7 exit kerbs. The Frenchman finished the session 17th-fastest.

Meanwhile, Haas’ Romain Grosjean ended FP1 with a broken front wing after clattering one of Bahrain’s kerbs. The Frenchman wound up P17, five places back from team mate Kevin Magnussen.


FORMULA 1 GULF AIR BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX 2019 – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 1
Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari SF90 1:30.354 20
2. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF90 1:30.617 + 0.263 21
3. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10 1:31.328 + 0.974 26
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10 1:31.601 + 1.247 23
5. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing RB15 1:31.673 + 1.319 21
6. Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing RB15 1:31.815 + 1.461 17
7. Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren F1 Team MCL34 1:31.952 + 1.598 28
8. Nico Hülkenberg Renault F1 Team RS19 1:32.040 + 1.686 17
9. Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:32.339 + 1.985 24
10. Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing C38 1:32.385 + 2.031 23
11. Daniel Ricciardo Renault F1 Team RS19 1:32.401 + 2.047 19
12. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team VF-19 1:32.602 + 2.248 21
13. Alexander Albon Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:32.874 + 2.520 24
14. Sergio Pérez Racing Point F1 Team RP19 1:32.885 + 2.531 20
15. Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team MCL34 1:32.945 + 2.591 29
16. Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing C38 1:32.949 + 2.595 22
17. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team VF-19 1:32.994 + 2.640 22
18. Lance Stroll Racing Point F1 Team RP19 1:33.518 + 3.164 16
19. George Russell ROKiT Williams Racing FW42 1:34.188 + 3.834 26
20. Robert Kubica ROKiT Williams Racing FW42 1:34.253 + 3.899 27

Image via Formula1.com

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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