Vettel tops opening Bahrain F1 practice, Raikkonen sidelined


Ferrari enjoyed a mixed start to the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix weekend as Sebastian Vettel posted the fastest lap, only for teammate Kimi Raikkonen to finish at the opposite end of the timesheets due to an engine issue.

Vettel currently sits tied with Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton at the top of the drivers’ championship, but managed to get the upper hand over the three-time champion in opening practice at the Bahrain International Circuit.

A fastest lap of 1:32.697 saw Vettel finish four-tenths of a second clear of the pack in first practice, signalling Ferrari’s impressive pace at the start of the 2017 season.

However, it was not all plain sailing for the Italian marque, with an overheating issue with the turbo on Raikkonen’s power unit forced him to park up at the side of the track midway through FP1.

Hamilton was also unable to put up a fight to Vettel at the front of the pack, with Mercedes opting against chasing lap time in FP1 when conditions are greatly different to how they will be for qualifying or the race, which take place at dusk.

Hamilton ended the session in 10th place, with teammate Valtteri Bottas following in 14th, leaving Daniel Ricciardo to lead the fight against Vettel at the top of the timesheets.

Ricciardo finished four-tenths of a second behind Vettel for Red Bull, and was followed by teammate Max Verstappen in third place.

Sergio Perez ended the session fourth for Force India, with Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll following in fifth and sixth. Perez’s teammate, Esteban Ocon, was seventh.

Fernando Alonso lifted McLaren into the top 10 with another strong display, finishing eighth, but teammate Stoffel Vandoorne was forced to stop on-track due to an engine issue that caused a loss of power. Romain Grosjean followed Alonso in ninth place for Haas, with Hamilton rounding out the top 10.