Charles Leclerc topped the opening practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix leading a Ferrari 1-2 ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel as the Italian squad’s perceived pace returned after a difficult opening round.
Despite heading into the 2019 opening race in Australia with the strongest package on the grid, Ferrari struggled for pace at Albert Park leaving both drivers searching for answers. During the soft tyre runs both Ferrari drivers appeared to display its previous pace with Leclerc notching in a 1m 30.354s, a quarter of a second faster than Vettel, to storm to the top of the times.
Earlier the Mercedes pair had set the standard to beat with Valtteri Bottas, winner in Australia, producing a 1m 31.328s on the soft tyres while teammate Lewis Hamilton lost three-tenths to the Finn after running wide at the final corner on his best lap.
Max Verstappen led the Red Bull Honda charge in fifth place within one-tenth of Hamilton with a useful buffer to teammate Pierre Gasly as the top three teams locked out the top order.
It left Carlos Sainz to grab the best of the rest honour in FP1 with seventh place for McLaren, having taken on a new power unit after suffering a MGU-K failure at the opening round two weeks ago, to edge out former Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg.
Daniil Kyvat placed his Toro Rosso Honda in ninth ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, who was involved in two near-misses with other drivers in FP1, to see Daniel Ricciardo narrowly miss out on the top 10 by just 0.016s for Renault.
Kevin Magnussen, the best finisher of the midfield F1 runners at the opening round, claimed 12th place for Haas ahead of rookie Alexander Albon in the Toro Rosso Honda with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez in 14th.
Foto-credit: Scuderia Ferrari F1
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