April 4th, 2014 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Lewis Hamilton has kept his momentum going after winning last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, by setting the fastest time in the first practice session for this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix. Nico Rosberg was second quickest, continuing the Mercedes team's domination of the 2014 season. Best-of-the-rest was Ferrari's Alonso in third place.
Three drivers gave up their cars for the session, to be replaced by their respective teams' reserve drivers. Valtteri Bottas's Williams was driven by Brazilian Felipe Nasr, while Giedo van der Garde drove the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez and Robin Frijns took over the Caterham of Kamui Kobayashi. The three regular drivers will be back in their cars for FP2.
Ahead of the weekend, it was expected that Mercedes would continue to have a pace advantage, and so far that has proven to be the case. What remains to be seen is the extent of the advantage. After only one practice session, it's difficult to really read much into the times. The gap between Mercedes and the rest of the field will become more clear through the remaining practice sessions and qualifying.
Behind the two Silver Arrows, there is a battle brewing between Ferrari, McLaren and Force India - Nico Hulkenberg continued to show impressive pace this season with the fourth-fastest time in FP1. Red Bull haven't really featured at the top of the time sheets so far this weekend - Vettel was 10th fastest and Ricciardo 14th in this session - but that can be expected to change as the weekend progresses. Vettel's podium last time out in Malaysia confirmed that the Red Bull is a quick car.
For the first time in an FP1 session this season, every driver managed to set a lap time, showing the steps that the teams have all taken in terms of reliability and preparation. Lotus will be particularly pleased to have had both cars running, as their Friday practice sessions at the first two races were disastrous. Between them, Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean managed to cover 55 laps, each of which will be crucial for the team as they look to make significant progress after a dismal start to their 2014 campaign.
The second practice session gets underway at 18:00 local time in Bahrain and will take place in race conditions, using the lights as they will be used on Sunday.
Full results from FP1:
|4||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:38.122||0.620||10|
|8||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:39.056||1.554||24|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:39.102||1.600||21|
|10||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing||1:39.389||1.887||16|
|12||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:39.862||2.360||26|
|14||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||1:40.406||2.904||19|
|18||36||Giedo van der Garde||Sauber||1:40.913||3.411||20|