Bahrain GP 2017

APRIL 14, 2017

Practice 1 Report - The Bahrain 500

Sebastian Vettel, Bahrain GP 2017
© RV Press


By Dan Knutson in Manama

Sebastian Vettel topped the lap times in the opening practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix in his Ferrari.

The main topic of conversation on the paddock, of course, was the news that McLaren driver Fernando Alonso will compete in the Indianapolis 500 driving a Honda for Andretti.

"It's great that a driver is able to do that," Lewis Hamilton said of his former teammate. "I think us drivers should be able to do more than one series. Obviously there was a period of time in the past when there were drivers doing multiples series, so I think it's pretty cool that he's doing it."

"It's something that is not very common now," Alonso agreed. "I think the past it was all about the best drivers in the world with the best cars in the world and the best races in the world. Then it became more and more professional, the sport, and everyone was dedicated or fully committed to only one series and I think that changed over time.

"This possibility, it was there for us this year, and I think I am excited to try a different thing. If I want to be the best driver in the world there are two options: I win eight Formula 1 World Championships, one more than Michael, which is very unlikely; the second one is to win different series in different moments of my career and be a driver that can race and win in any car, in any series."

The lineup for the weekend was: Mercedes ‘ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas; Red Bull TAG Heuer ‘ Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen; Ferrari ‘ Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen; Force India Mercedes ‘ Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon; Williams Mercedes ‘ Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll; McLaren Honda ‘ Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne; Renault ‘ Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer; Toro Rosso Renault ‘ Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz; Haas Ferrari ‘ Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; Sauber Ferrari ‘ Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.

Wehrlein, saying he was now fully healed and fit, was back in action in the Sauber, replacing his temporary replacement Antonio Giovinazzi.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Centigrade.) There was a zero percent chance of rain.

A far cry, then, weather-wise, from the rain and cold conditions in China a week earlier.

Ericsson, Kvyat and Vettel led the other drivers, including Alonso, out on the-3.362-mile [5.412 km] 15-turn Sakhir circuit.

The drivers had a choice of Pirelli's medium, soft and super soft compound slicks for the weekend. Ricciardo, on the mediums, clocked the first time ‘ 1:38.985.

It took a while, but Hamilton got one top of the times with his 1:38.112. Bottas was the only other driver to do a flying lap in the first 20 minutes. Bottas, on mediums, lowered the mark to 1:37.355. Hamilton beat that with a 1:36.708.

Vettel slotted into second with a time of 1:36.934.

Just before the half-hour mark Sainz, on the softs, recorded a 1:36.079.

Bottas sliced a second off that to get a time of 1:35.002 on the soft Pirellis. Hamilton used the same rubber to clock a 1:34.636. His former teammate Nico Rosberg set the fastest time in FP1 last year with a 1:32.294.

Thirty-seven minutes into the session Raikkonen smoked to a stop just after Turn 13.

As the midpoint of FP1 the top 10 were: Hamilton, Bottas, Sainz, Vettel, Ocon, Massa, Verstappen, Grosjean, Stroll and Perez.

Hamilton was the first to venture out at things got going again after the short break. It was Stroll, however, who set the pace with his lap of 1:34.095 on the soft slicks. And Perez who did a 1:34.095.

The track temperature was coming down as well, now measuring 102 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Centigrade). Meanwhile the ambient temperature remained unchanged.

Vettel, on the softs, lowered the mark to 1:32.697 with 31 minutes remaining. Ricciardo and Verstappen slotted into second and third ahead of Perez, Massa, Stroll, Ocon and Grosjean.

Vandoorne's FP1 ended when he parked his McLaren at Turn 10 with 20 minutes remaining.

Massa's brakes went out and he spun with eight minutes remaining and headed for the pits.

And FP1 ended with the top 10 being: Vettel, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Perez, Massa, Stroll, Ocon, Alonso, Grosjean and Hamilton.