RED BULL’S Daniel Ricciardo was fastest in first practice for the Bahrain GP but team-mate Max Verstappen failed to complete a lap after his car broke down with a suspected electrical glitch.
Ricciardo believes Red Bull can challenge for victory this weekend in the desert and produced a blistering lap three tenths of a second quicker than the best of Mercedes to provide tangible encouragement after Verstappen’s early misfortune.
The Dutchman’s car lost power on its first installation lap and required a push from its driver to make its return to the pitlane.
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Before Ricciardo’s late burst, Ferrari had also featured prominently with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel lapping within a tenth of Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes on the same soft tyres.
However, the session is likely to be highly unrepresentative of the rest of the weekend with Practice One held in the early afternoon while Sunday’s grand prix will be a full night race.
World champion Lewis Hamilton ran off track at the start of his flying lap and then couldn’t find enough grip from his tyres for another meaningful burst.
McLaren are running a substantial upgrade package as the team play catch-up to the frontrunners and with their own development programme for the MCL33. “We have the car we should have had in Australia,” team chief Eric Boullier told Sky Sports F1.
Force India’s struggles continued with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon propping up the timesheets for the team which finished fourth in the Constructors’ Championship last season. “We don’t really understand the package because the car isn’t doing what it is supposed to be doing,” Perez candidly admitted.
Off track, meanwhile, focus remained on Liberty Media’s plans for the future of the sport after F1’s new owners revealed their proposal for Formula 1’s next era post-2020 in a meeting with the team bosses.
Bahrain GP Practice One Timesheet
Driver — Team — Time
1) Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull — 1:31.060
2) Valtteri Bottas — Mercedes — + 0.304
3) Kimi Raikkonen — Ferrari — + 0.398
4) Sebastian Vettel — Ferrari — + 0.410
5) Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes — + 1.212
6) Romain Grosjean — Haas — + 1.456
7) Pierre Gasly — Toro Rosso — + 1.719
8) Carlos Sainz — Renault — + 1.825
9) Kevin Magnussen — Haas — + 1.911
10) Nico Hulkenberg — Renault — + 2.044
11) Fernando Alonso — McLaren — + 2.163
12) Charles Leclerc — Sauber — + 2.218
13) Stoffel Vandoorne — McLaren — + 2.304
14) Lance Stroll — Williams — + 2.319
15) Sergey Sirotkin — Williams — + 2.407
16) Brendon Hartley — Toro Rosso — + 2.437
17) Marcus Ericsson — Sauber — + 2.448
18) Sergio Perez — Force India — + 2.602
19) Esteban Ocon — Force India — + 2.734
20) Max Verstappen — Red Bull — No time set