Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix: Practice 1

By Steve Aibel, Senior F1 Writer

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton led the opening practice session for Mercedes at the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. Rosberg set his flyer early in the session covering the field and again showcasing the dominance of the Mercedes package. Rosberg bested teammate Hamilton by almost .5 seconds while the spread to the rest of the field approached 2 seconds.

The Ferrari pair sat midfield for most of the session until Kimi Raikkonen let the horses from the paddock and slotted into the third spot late in the session. It was a similar story for the Red Bull boys as Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat brought their RB-12’s into the top 5 toward the end of the session.

Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz, Max Verstappen, Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa rounded out the top 10 in the practice session with all drivers lapping within .5 seconds of each other, again supporting the tight mid field that will bring with it exciting racing. Williams showed their typical Friday approach, laying low, and not showing the front running pace that we expect to see from them in Bahrain.

Romain Grosjean again was impressive with the Haas VF-16 showing just as much speed as the rest of the second pack. Teammate Esteban Gutierrez cycled in a new chassis after damage was done to the car in the accident in Australia with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

With Alonso still recovering from injuries suffered in the massive shunt that totaled his MP4-31, Stoffel Vandoorne got his first taste of a real Formula 1 weekend in the session. Vandoorne, last years GP2 champion, will be someone to watch as he gets his feet wet this weekend. Expectations are certainly high for the young Belgian.

Free Practice 1 Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:32.294
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.799
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:34.128
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:34.461
5 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:34.541
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:34.601
7 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:34.793
8 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:34.860
9 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:34.860
10 Felipe Massa Williams 1:35.006
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:35.073
12 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:35.174
13 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:35.309
14 Jenson Button McLaren 1:35.490
15 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:35.490
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:35.728
17 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:36.371
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:36.392
19 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:36.719
20 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:36.939
21 Alfonso Celis Force India 1:37.287
22 Rio Haryanto Manor 1:37.714

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Growing up in a racing family, Steve Aibel was surrounded by Allards, Crosleys and Corvettes! A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Steve was drawn to the automobile magazines strewn throughout the house and Formula 1 in particular. With go karts, motorcycles and vintage race cars in the garage, it was inevitable that the torch would be carried by Steve. Lime Rock Park was his own personal playground while still keeping an eye on the pinnacle of motorsports overseas called Formula 1. Now, in the shadows of Circuit of the Americas, Steve is able to not only follow F1, he makes it the object of this racing stories. This passion for Formula 1 is shared weekly writing original articles for both Tribute Racing and Drafting the Circuits. He also participates in two weekly radio shows. Drafting The Circuits, (, which airs Tuesday evening at 7 pm CST and Formula 1 Racing Plus (, which broadcasts throughout the week on Performance Motorsports Network. Steve's motorsports photography can be found at

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