Lewis Hamilton has finished fastest in the first practice session ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix as Mercedes once again dominated proceedings on Friday afternoon in Sakhir.
The British driver, who is coming off the back of winning in Malaysia last weekend, posted a fastest time of 1:37.502 to finish two-tenths ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg as Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg were the only drivers to finish within half a second of the Silver Arrows.
Following a noisy GP2 practice on Friday morning, free practice got underway in a somewhat quieter fashion as the drivers kicked off the tenth Bahrain GP race weekend. Most came out early for an installation lap, but Rosberg’s session got off to a bad start as he suffered a loss of power on his car, forcing him to crawl back to the pits. The Mercedes team quickly got to work to fix the problem, and he was soon sent him back on his way.
Robin Frijns and Giedo van der Garde were two of the first drivers to post a time as both enjoyed some running in the session as part of their duties as test drivers for Caterham and Sauber respectively. Similarly, Felipe Nasr stepped in at Williams for Valtteri Bottas, and quickly moved to the top of the timesheets. He was soon displaced once the full-time drivers came out on track, and Daniil Kvyat was the first to lay down a serious benchmark ahead of Sergio Perez and Jenson Button. Predictably, Mercedes hit back as Rosberg moved ahead of Kvyat for P1, and he was soon followed by teammate Lewis Hamilton who went fastest by one-tenth of a second. Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg popped up into third place with a solid lap time, just two-tenths shy of Hamilton’s
With the excessive heat posing a number of problems in Bahrain, many opted to sit in the pits and limit their running. The race will start at 6pm local time on Sunday, meaning that conditions will be far cooler than in practice.
In a rather bizarre moment, Ferrari was forced to send its mechanics down the pit lane to retrieve Fernando Alonso after he was found to have an odd tire on his car. The team should avoid a penalty as the Spaniard had not joined the track.
With 15 minutes to go, Alonso fitted a set of the quicker medium tires and went fastest of all for Ferrari (with all four tires the same this time around). Hulkenberg improved his time to move up into second place, and these times finally stirred the Mercedes drivers from their garages. Rosberg soon re-established his dominance to move two-tenths of a second clear of Alonso, before Hamilton put another two-tenths over his teammate with seven minutes to go.
Ultimately, this time proved to be unbeatable, handing Mercedes yet another one-two at the top of the timesheets.