Bahrain GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report
Mercedes drivers ‚Äì who else? ‚Äì Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg set the fastest lap times in Friday afternoon's Free Practice 1 session for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The ambient temperature at the start of the session was 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Centigrade.)
Three teams ran their test drivers in FP1. Robert Frijns replaced Kamui Kobayashi in the Caterham, Guido van der Garde took over Esteban Gutierrez's Sauber and Felipe Nasr drove Valtteri Bottas' Williams.
It had actually rained in Bahrain on Wednesday night, but there was zero percent chance of rain as the drivers headed out on the track 3.363‚Äìmile (5.412-km) 15‚Äìturn track for the 90-minute FP1 session.
Marcus Ericsson (Caterham) Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) were the first out. Bahrain is hosting an evening/night race this year, and so the schedule was pushed back. FP1 began at 2 p.m.
6 minutes into the session, everybody had done an installation lap or two and was back in the garage. The exception was the McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen who had yet to go out. But a couple of minutes later Button took to the track. Then his teammate joined him.
14 minutes into the session, Frijns clocked the first lap time: 1:45.483 and he then lowered that to a 1:44.052.
17 minutes into the session, Nasr posted a 1:41.311 to take the top spot in his Williams. Then Daniil Kvyat turned a 1:39.453 in his Toro Rosso.
23 minutes into the session, Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg set the pace with times of 1:38.395 and 1:38.508 respectively.
30 minutes into the session, Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) was the only other driver in the 1:38s with his lap of 1:38.632. Ericsson and Felipe Massa (Williams) had yet to set a time. Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in his Ferrari and a full second slower than Hamilton.
50 minutes into the session, Pastor Maldonado (Lotus) and Frijns were the only drivers on the track.
Midway through FP1 the top six were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Kvyat and Sergio Perez (Sauber.)
The drivers had the choice of Pirelli's medium compound (white sidewalls) and soft compound (yellow sidewall) slicks for the weekend. Nobody used the softs in FP1.
With 40 minutes remaining in the session, Massa had completed just one lap as he and the team decided to save the car and power unit for later running.
With 37 minutes remaining in the session, there was confusion at Ferrari where there was soft tire on the left front and a medium on the right front of Alonso's car. He stopped in pitlane and the mechanics pushed the car back into the garage.
Celebrity guests in the Ferrari garage included musician Nick Mason and former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi.
With 33 minutes remaining in the session, the McLaren boys were now in the mix with Button fourth and Magnussen fifth.
At the one hour mark, the top six were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Button, Magnussen and Kvyat. Next came Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Perez and Vergne.
With 17 minutes remaining in the session, top dogs Hamilton and Rosberg had done just seven laps each. The team was waiting for the evening/night FP2 session when the track and temperature conditions would be more like they will be in Sunday's race.
With14 minutes remaining in the session, Alonso, on the medium tires, clocked a 1:37.953 as Raikkonen slid off the track and continued.
With 11 minutes remaining in the session, the top six were: Alonso, Hamilton, Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Button and Raikkonen. And now Rosberg and Hamilton were back on track. So was Hulkenberg who took over second place with a time of 1:38.122.
With 9 minutes remaining in the session, Rosberg took over the lead with a 1:37.733.
With 8 minutes remaining in the session, only Button, Magnussen and Raikkonen were in the garage as Vergne slid off at Turn 5.
With 7 minutes remaining in the session, Hamilton went quickest with a 1:37.502 as Rosberg went wide at Turn 1. The only place Hamilton was slower than Rosberg was in Turn 8.
Lotus drivers Maldonado and Romain Grosjean completed 31 and 24 laps respectively. A vast improvement from testing at Bahrain about a month ago when they could barely do a lap or two without the car breaking down.
The top 10 at the end of FP1 were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Button, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Kvyat, Perez and Vettel.