Sebastian Vettel has seen off the challenge from teammate Charles Leclerc to end Friday practice on top as Ferrari’s pace returns in Bahrain.
Having struggled for answers to its apparent pace drop at the Formula 1 opener in Australia, Ferrari dominated the opening day in Bahrain with a 1-2 in FP1 followed by the same result but in the opposite order in the evening session under the floodlights.
Both Ferrari drivers produced two qualifying simulation runs in FP2, along with long in the second half of the session, with Vettel taking top spot with a 1m 28.846s despite running wide on the exit at the final turn on his best lap.
His effort edged out Leclerc by just 0.035s, but Vettel couldn’t claim a flawless session as a spin at Turn 2 on during a long run to see his race simulation truncated.
Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas couldn’t get within half a second of Vettel’s top effort, having only completed one qualifying simulation, with the reigning F1 world champion taking third place 0.603s off Vettel and one-tenth ahead of his Finnish teammate.
Nico Hulkenberg broke into the top five for Renault with an impressive qualifying simulation lap of 1m 29.669s to jump ahead of the Red Bull Honda of Max Verstappen.
Kevin Magnussen continued his promising pace for Haas in seventh place in front of Lando Norris with the McLaren driver suffering an engine issue in the closing 15 minutes of FP2.
Romain Grosjean (Haas) and Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso Honda) rounded out the top 10 ahead of Carlos Sainz who has a new power unit on his McLaren following the MGU-K failure he suffered in Australia.
Pierre Gasly has continued to struggle to replicate his Red Bull teammate’s pace down in 12th place just in front of Alexander Albon for Toro Rosso.
With Sergio Perez claiming 14th for Racing Point, it was a similarly low-key day for Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault down in 15th place.
Alfa Romeo endured a tough FP2 on both sides of the garage with Kimi Raikkonen having a rookie-like out-lap spin at Turn 2 on cold tyres before suffering a coolant leak in the opening 30 minutes of the session to limit the Finn to just six laps.
Antonio Giovinazzi, who avoided punishment for colliding with Nico Hulkenberg in FP1, also picked up a mechanical issue but was able to return to track action inside the final 10 minutes of the session.
Lance Stroll split the Alfa Romeos ahead of the struggling Williams duo of George Russell and Robert Kubica – the latter ending FP2 over four seconds slower than pace-setter Vettel.
Foto-credit: Scuderia Ferrari F1