The theme of surprise pace-setters in Formula One testing, as it was in Jerez a few weeks ago, continued Wednesday on the first day at Bahrain. Nico Hulkenberg in his Force India clocked in at 1:36.880 on Pirelli’s soft tires, in a lap actually faster than the 2013 fastest race lap in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
What is a trend though, is that Hulkenberg is in a Mercedes-powered car, and was able to clock a substantial amount of laps on the day. His fellow Mercedes-powered drivers did as well and the Renaults, again as in Jerez, didn’t.
Hulkenberg was third in the morning session behind McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, as times dropped by a couple seconds once teams switched onto the softer compounds.
By day’s end only Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari was within a second, and only just, at 1:37.879.
With times not as important as lap counts on the first day, here’s the breakdown by manufacturer:
- Mercedes: 238 (Hulkenberg 78, Hamilton 74, Magnussen 81, Felipe Massa 5)
- Ferrari: 149 (Alonso 64, Adrian Sutil 82, Jules Bianchi 3)
- Renault: 95 (Sebastian Vettel 14, Robin Frijns 68, Daniil Kvyat 5, Romain Grosjean 8)
Neither Massa or Bianchi set an official time; Williams’ Massa had a fuel system issue that cost him most of his day, while Marussia’s Bianchi had what was deemed an “IT configuration problem” per the team.
Meanwhile for Renault, Red Bull’s Vettel encountered more issues as he stopped on track with a broken down car. The team didn’t reveal the reason as yet. As it is, a disconcerting sign after his Jerez problems.
Kyvat had an oil leak in the Toro Rosso, while Grosjean was out mainly for installation laps and didn’t put up a representative time.
Caterham’s Frijns impressed on his only day of running, before race drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson take over later this week.
1. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India-Mercedes, 1m36.880s, 78 Laps 2. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1m37.879s, 64 3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m37.908s, 74 4. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren-Mercedes, 1m38.295s, 81 5. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault, 1m40.224s, 14 6. Adrian Sutil, Sauber-Ferrari, 1m40.443s, 82 7. Robin Frijns, Caterham-Renault, 1m42.534s, 68 8. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso-Renault, 1m44.346s, 5 9. Romain Grosjean, Lotus-Renault, 1m44.832s, 8 10. Felipe Massa, Williams-Meredes, no time, 5 11. Jules Bianchi, Marussia-Ferrari, no time, 3