Bahrain GP 2024

FEBRUARY 29, 2024

Practice 1 Report - Ricciardo Tops FP1

Daniel Ricciardo
© Red Bull
In an electrifying start to the 2024 Formula 1 season, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo seized the top spot in the first practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix, narrowly edging out McLaren's Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri. The session, marked by strategic tire choices and varying conditions, saw only a handful of teams, including RB, McLaren, and Sauber, opt for the soft compound tires, setting the stage for an intriguing leaderboard. The Bahrain International Circuit, known for its demanding layout, presented drivers with windy conditions and cool temperatures, making the initial runs on the medium tires a critical phase for gathering data. The early minutes were a flurry of activity, with positions changing rapidly before Max Verstappen of Red Bull momentarily claimed the top spot. However, the focus soon shifted to tire strategies and car adjustments, highlighting the teams' efforts to optimize performance under the unique conditions of the Sakhir track. Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell showcased their prowess on the medium tires, briefly leading the timesheets, underscoring the competitive depth of the field. Yet, it was the switch to soft tires that reshaped the leaderboard, with Piastri and Norris leveraging the grippier compound to surge ahead, only for Ricciardo to eclipse them with a stellar lap. Despite Verstappen's attempts to challenge on the mediums, concerns over a "positive torque" issue with his engine hinted at the intricate balance teams and drivers must manage. The session's closing stages saw most teams eschew further soft tire runs, instead focusing on high fuel simulations, leaving the early soft tire users at the top of the times. The final times reflected a closely contested field, with Fernando Alonso, Verstappen, and the Mercedes duo closely bunched behind the leaders. Valtteri Bottas's late effort on softs highlighted the session's competitive intensity, though unable to break into the top ranks. This initial practice session in Bahrain sets a promising tone for the 2024 F1 season, with strategic choices and on-track performance hinting at a thrilling championship battle ahead.