Bahrain GP FP1: Ricciardo tops, McLarens chase

BahrainGP FP1: Ricciardo tops, McLarens chase

Bahrain GP FP1: Ricciardo tops, McLarens chase

Daniel Ricciardo topped the first practice session of the 2024 Formula 1 season in Bahrain showing some decent pace from his VCARB 01.

It’s worth noting that given the time of day when FP1 is held, the times are highly misrepresentative, but their is no denying the RBs have taken a decent step forward.

Ricciardo was followed by Lando Norris in second and Oscar Piastri in third, while Yuki Tsunoda was fourth fastest in the other VCARB 01.

The top four posted their times on the Soft compounds and, along with the Saubers, were the only teams to use the red-walled Pirellis in FP1.

Reigning F1 Champion Max Verstappen who wasn’t very happy with his RB20 all session with many complaints going to the pitwall, and he finished the session sixth fastest.

FP1 seemed like a continuation to pre-season testing with Ricciardo’s best lap slower than the best time set in pre-season testing last week.

Buildup towards FP1

Formula 1 is back, and all the ten teams are now ready for the serious business of racing, as we will get – for the first-time a true idea about their brand new 2024 machines.

And while pre-season testing sent ominous signs that Red Bull and Verstappen are still way ahead, we shall not lose hope and just pray that Ferrari’s speed was not showboating, that Mercedes got their sums right with the W15 and that McLaren were sandbagging.

It was a tumultuous off season for the sport with lots of action going on, Andretti Cadillac’s bid rejected by Formula One Management, Guenther Steiner shown the door at Haas, Lewis Hamilton bidding Mercedes farewell and heading to Ferrari in 2025.

And last but not least, the story that eclipsed every other, Christian Horner being investigated for “inappropriate behavior” towards a female colleague that turned out not to be true.

The Horner debacle took F1 by storm and was the source of many speculations and rumors, but gladly Red Bull finalized their investigation just before Bahrain action started, and he was cleared and we can now focus on the racing.

So much to look forward to this season. How far ahead are Red Bull and Verstappen? Will Sergio Perez be better? How will Hamilton’s final season with Mercedes be? How will Carlos Sainz’s final season in Red be before he makes way for the seven-time F1 Champ?

Will McLaren continue their resurgence? What about Aston Martin? Will the RBs or VCARBs or whatever you want to call them give us reason to forget their ridiculous name?

And many more questions… But for now F1 is back so let’s enjoy the season…

Bahrain GP FP1 session highlights

The session started in clear, but windy conditions, track temperatures in the mid thirties, the air temperature in the region of 20 degrees centigrade.

Five minutes into the session, and over half the cars were out on track and already posting times, the Medium tyres being the Medium.

Speaking of tyres, Pirelli brought the C1 (Hard), C2 (Medium) and C3 (Soft) for the first of the season.

The session being during the day and not representative like the afternoon one, made the teams test some more items on their cars, several of them having aero rakes bolted to them when leaving the pits.

While Valtteri Bottas was the first driver to head out on track, soon after that, his teammate Zhou Guanyu reported brake problems, and after finishing the lap he was on, heads back to the pits.

Ten minutes into the session, reigning F1 Champion, Verstappen set out to set his first lap time, and no surprise there, he went straight to the top, over six tenths clear of the second fastest, Sainz.

Despite setting the fastest time, Verstappen was not happy, he tells the team: “Everything is *****, like miles off.”

As a reminder, the drain covers on the Sakhir track caused some issued in preseason testing, but the track officials announced that the problems were sorted.

Less than half an hour into the session, Kevin Magnussen’s Haas was up on the stands, the same happening at Mercedes for George Russell.

Midway into the session, Piastri became the first driver to bolt on the Soft compound and duly shot up to the top of the timing screens. His McLaren teammate, Norris went fastest on the same compound and over two tenths clear of the Aussie.

Norris on Wednesday warned that McLaren may struggle in Bahrain. Speaking live on F1 TV, McLaren CEO Zak Brown said: “It’s early, the track is still coming in – it is getting a tenth quicker every five minutes and we don’t know fuel loads so hard to make judgements. But based on testing, we think we’ll be competitive this season.”

Brown has been complaining about the RBs and their relations with Red Bull racing giving them an advantage, which is not fair to the competition.

Soon Ricciardo and Tsunoda give the American more reason to get upset, as the former went 0.032s faster than Norris on the Softs, while Tsunoda was fourth and a couple of tenths slower than Piastri. That was 20 minutes from the end of the session.

At the same time, Zhou remained in the Sauber garage, while Verstappen was complaining again about his RB20, saying he was having “positive torque” under braking.

In the meantime, Sainz messes up his braking point and locks heavily.

Zhou rejoins the action with less the 20 minutes remaining from FP1, while Verstappen and Russell have a mini race out there.

Less than ten minutes towards the end, Esteban Ocon complained about his A524 reporting is it inconsistent, while Lance Stroll locked up his AMR24 quite heavily.

The Canadian complained that his car was “super snappy” in Turns 1 and 2.

Verstappen’s complaints continued as one minute from the end he reported “very inconsistent downshift again” to his engineer.

All the drivers head to the start/finish line for some practice starts at the end of the session.

How they finished

Ricciardo posted a 1:32.869 to go fastest and 0.032s faster than Norris in second, the latter over two tenths clear of Piastri in third.

Tsunoda was fourth fastest on the other RB, 0.314s slower than his teammate and 0.010s ahead of Fernando Alonso who was fifth fastest.

Verstappen was sixth fastest with a 1:33.238 and 0.013s ahead of Russell, seventh in the Mercedes with Charles Leclerc 0.017s behind the Briton in eighth.

Hamilton was ninth fastest in the other Mercedes, 0.034s behind Leclerc and 0.052s ahead of former teammate Bottas, tenth in the Sauber.

Sainz and Perez were 11th and 12th respectively, with Stroll down in 14th, while the Alpines and Haas seem to be in trouble occupying the four last positions, the American squad slower than the French.

FP1 Classification

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