AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly set the pace in first practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, as the 2022 Formula 1 season – featuring revolutionary new cars – got under way…
The Frenchman used the soft tyres to pump in 1m 34.193s, 0.364s clear of the medium-shod Charles Leclerc, who had a 360-degree spin when on the medium tyres before recovering, with Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz third.
George Russell was the leading Mercedes in fourth, 0.4s off the pace but a quarter of a second quicker than team mate and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton (P7).
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Reigning world champion Max Verstappen began his title defence with the fifth-quickest time, the Red Bull driver rolling through four sets of tyres but keeping the soft compound for FP2.
Red Bull Racing
Lance Stroll slotted into sixth for Aston Martin, with team mate Nico Hulkenberg – who is standing in for Sebastian Vettel after his compatriot tested positive for Covid-19 – a second off in 14th.
Fernando Alonso was eighth ahead of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez closing out the top 10. Zhou Guanyu began his rookie year on a high note with the 11th-quickest time, after his first run on the red-walled soft compound tyres.
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The session was only a few minutes old when Esteban Ocon’s Alpine shed its upgraded sidepod bodywork on the main straight. Given the significant amount of debris scattered across the track, the session was red flagged.
Ocon returned to the track to go 12th, ahead of the leading Williams of Nicholas Latifi, who was two places and three-tenths quicker than new team mate Alex Albon (P15).
2022 Bahrain GP FP1: Ride onboard with Latifi’s visor cam
McLaren – who had a front brake duct upgrade after they encountered so many problems in testing – had a very low-key session with Lando Norris 16th and Daniel Ricciardo, who has recovered from Covid-19, 17th.
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Mick Schumacher headed Haas team mate Kevin Magnussen – who had a late call to replace Nikita Mazepin this season – in 18th, three-tenths separating the duo.
Valtteri Bottas had a difficult session, the Alfa Romeo failing to register a time. He retreated to the pits after reporting a misfire on his initial installation lap, and while he came out once more, he headed straight back to the garage again.
FP2 follows at 1800 local time as we begin to see how the teams stack up at Sakhir.
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