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Bahrain GP: Ricciardo sets surprise early pace in Practice 1

Written by  Apr 06, 2018

Daniel Ricciardo emerged as the surprise pacesetter for Red Bull in the first practice session ahead of the Bahrain GP on Friday.

As the top teams completed a flying lap on the Soft compound tyre in the final half an hour, it looked as if Valtteri Bottas would take top spot with the two Ferrari's not quite able to maintain a rapid pace in the first sector.

However, the Australian was the last of the leading runners to go out and would post a purple sector en route to a 1m31.060s, three-tenths of a second clear of the Finn in the Mercedes.

As in Melbourne, it was Kimi Raikkonen who led the Scuderia's charge as the eight-time podium finisher at Sakhir finish 0.012s ahead of his German teammate Sebastian Vettel.

World champion Lewis Hamilton would lock his front-left and run wide at Turn 10 on his first flying lap but his second attempt would still leave the Briton 1.2 seconds off the pace of Ricciardo as he complained of a lack of grip.

The pleasing start at one side of the Red Bull garage was not repeated on the other side, however, as an electrical problem caused Max Verstappen to grind to a halt in the first 10 minutes with the mechanics unable to rectify the issue before the end of the session.

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In the heat of a desert afternoon, conditions were far from representative of what they'll have come qualifying and the race on Sunday which meant most teams didn't look at performance and instead continued development work.

That didn't stop Haas from leading the midfield again, however, with Romain Grosjean in sixth but it was Pierre Gasly who featured highly in seventh for Toro Rosso.

Carlos Sainz pipped Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg into eighth with the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen completing the top 10.

Once again, over a single lap, McLaren didn't look too strong with Fernando Alonso 11th and over two seconds slower than the leading Red Bull, which is the team he has claimed are their target.

Charles Leclerc was one of two drivers to have a half spin at Turn 7 as the gusty wind caught out he and Lance Stroll. The Monegasque was still a respectable 12th for Sauber though, ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne.

Stroll and Williams teammate Sergey Sirotkin were 14th and 15th followed by Brendon Hartley and Marcus Ericsson but it was the two Force Indias that brought up the times as they focused solely on aero work in their attempt to understand their VJM11 chassis.

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