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
|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|
|21||Alfonso Celis||Force India||1:37.287|