Chinese GP qualifying: Vettel denies Ferrari partner Raikkonen pole
Sebastian Vettel pipped Ferrari Formula 1 team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to pole position for the Chinese Grand prix by less than a tenth of a second.
Raikkonen looked set to top qualifying after setting the fastest time on the first runs in Q3, and was ahead of his team-mate in the first two sectors of his final lap.
But Raikkonen’s slow pace in the final sector gave Vettel a shot and the German set the best final sector time of the session to snatch pole by 0.087s.
Both the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers set their Q2 times using the soft Pirellis, so will start the race on that compound while the rest of the top 10 will all use ultrasofts
The Mercedes pair never looked to be a serious pole position threat, with neither Valtteri Bottas nor Lewis Hamilton able to improve on their first-run times in Q3 and both having to abandon their final runs.
Bottas was third, half-a-tenth faster than Hamilton, with the latter only 0.12s faster than the lead Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
Daniel Ricciardo was sixth after joining the first segment of qualifying late thanks to a turbo problem in free practice, lapping 0.152s slower than his team-mate.
Nico Hulkenberg was best-of-the rest for Renault. 1.473s off the pace, ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz Jr.
Romain Grosjean was slowest in Q3, ending qualifying 10th and 0.036s off Sainz’s Renault.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was eliminated in Q2 for the first time this season after a poor middle sector on his final lap prevented him from improving on his first-run time.
This allowed Sainz to relegate him to 11th place by 16 thousandths of a second, with Force India’s Esteban Ocon not far behind.
The McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne gave each other a tow on the long back straight, but it wasn’t enough to haul the Renault-powered cars into Q2 and left them 13th and 14th respectively.
Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley was slowest in Q2 and ended up 15th, just under three tenths slower than Vandoorne.
Sergey Sirotkin was knocked out in Q1 at the last minute when Sainz jumped up the order lap and pushed the Williams driver down to 16th place in the dying moments of the first stage of qualifying.
Sirotkin had looked to be a serious Q2 threat, but failed to match his personal best pace in the first sector and ended up half-a-tenth slower than Hartley.
Bahrain GP hero Pierre Gasly was 17th fastest, giving away enough time in the middle sector relative to his previous best to fail to make the cut, admitting after the session that overnight set-up changes had made life more difficult for him in qualifying.
Lance Stroll, in the second Williams, was 18th fastest ahead of the Sauber of Charles Leclerc.
Leclerc survived a spin after losing the rear on the power exiting the final left-hander on his second run to relegate team-mate Marcus Ericsson to last on their final runs thanks to the Swede’s poor final sector pace.
Ericsson has been summoned by the stewards for an investigation into not slowing under the yellow flags thrown for Leclerc’s spin.
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m31.796s||0.701s|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m31.948s||0.853s|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m32.758s||1.663s|
|12||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m33.057s||–|
|15||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m33.795s||–|
|17||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m34.101s||–|
Formula 1: Vettel tops final practice as Red Bull hits trouble
Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time in final practice for Formula 1’s Chinese Grand Prix as Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo suffered a spectacular Renault engine failure.
Vettel headed a one-two for Ferrari after jumping team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in the final third of the session, but his former F1 team will head into qualifying with serious concerns.
Ricciardo pulled up just after the halfway mark in the one-hour session, exiting the penultimate corner with his Red Bull belching bursts of flame and plumes of smoke.
A virtual safety car was deployed as the marshals dealt with Ricciardo’s latest Renault-induced disappointment, which comes less than a week after he retired from the Bahrain Grand Prix with an energy store failure.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports that "disappointing is probably an understatement" after the latest problem on only the third weekend of the season.
"I think we’ve got a suspected turbo failure," he said. "That is what the analysis is at the moment. Whether its damaged the combustion engine only time will tell."
Ricciardo’s team-mate Max Verstappen ended up fourth-fastest, splitting the two Mercedes, but also aired concerns to his team over the radio.
He declared "every time I push to the limiter I lose speed" and compared it to his feeling in Azerbaijan last year, when he eventually retired with an engine failure.
Heavy rain after Friday practice, which continued overnight, and a cold and overcast morning made track conditions poor at the start of the session, although there was no delay in cars hitting the track.
Raikkonen was first to set a lap time and Nico Hulkenberg briefly held top spot for Renault before speeds rapidly increased and Ferrari established itself at the head of the leaderboard.
The two Ferrari drivers both had spells on top before the halfway point of the one-hour session, with Vettel holding the advantage at that point on a 1m33.689s.
Raikkonen then surpassed Lewis Hamilton’s Friday benchmark on a 1m33.469s, before Vettel posted a 1m33.018s with just over 15 minutes to go. Hamilton had a messy session, twice running onto the wet astroturf on the exit of the Turn 9 and 10 double left-hander.
His second trip wide was more dramatic, running all four wheels off-track on the exit of Turn 10 and spinning wildly before coming to a rest facing the wrong way on the edge of the circuit.
Verstappen then went fourth, despite his engine concerns, just behind the lead Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, while Kevin Magnussen took advantage of the absent Ricciardo being shuffled back to 14th to take sixth for Haas.
Magnussen’s team-mate Romain Grosjean propped up the timesheets after stopping mid-session with fiery rear brakes.
The Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, Carlos Sainz Jr’s Renault and Sergey Sirotkin’s Williams completed the top 10.
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m33.969s||0.951s||14|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m34.445s||1.427s||14|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m34.456s||1.438s||16|
|14||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m34.991s||1.973s||20|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m35.061s||2.043s||4|
|16||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m35.079s||2.061s||16|
Kimi and Seb comment on free practice in China
Shanghai – Practice at the Shanghai International Circuit was ended prematurely by drizzle when Kimi and Seb had nearly concluded their long-runs, after setting second and fourth best times on the timesheet. Nearly all drivers set their best times on the Ultrasoft compound, while various types of rubber were tried in race trim simulations. The Chinese track is 5.451 Kilometers long and features a total of 16 challenging corners, but it looks like the fight for tomorrow’s qualifying session will be as close as ever.
“It was a pretty good Friday”, said Kimi “and I’m quite happy with the feeling of the car. I think we have a pretty good base line to start from, it looks pretty good. The car has been quite straightforward since the beginning, so it easy to fine tune things. On one lap we had some traffic, I’m sure we could have gone faster. In the long run we never really got a proper idea due to the conditions: it started to rain and we had limited running, so it’s a bit tricky to know where we are. Today it was close, but then tomorrow who knows what the weather will be; things can change a lot from one day to the next”.
Chinese GP: Lewis Hamilton 0.007s faster than Kimi Raikkonen in FP2
Lewis Hamilton pipped Kimi Raikkonen to the fastest time in the second Formula 1 free practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix by just seven-thousandths of a second.
Raikkonen set the pace on the first runs in the session on soft Pirellis, just over a tenth-of-a-second ahead of Hamilton.
The Mercedes driver then became the first frontrunner to complete a qualifying simulation on ultrasofts to go top with just over an hour of the 90-minute session remaining.
Hamilton, who had a brief off during his first run after locking up while going past Esteban Ocon’s Force India and another late in the session when back on softs, set his best session time of 1m33.482s despite an oversteery moment in the final corner.
Raikkonen was the last of the frontrunners to bolt on ultrasofts, ending up seven-thousandths slower and relegating the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas to third place – just 0.033s adrift of Hamilton’s pace.
The Ferrari driver looked to have the pace to take top spot but had to go around the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson into Turn 11, which potentially cost him enough to make the difference between first and second.
Sebastian Vettel, in the second Ferrari, was fourth with the top four drivers covered by just 0.108s.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was 0.341s off the pace in fifth place, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo struggled to ninth, 1.075s down having complained about his throttle pedal map and brakes during the session.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was best of the rest in sixth place having been as high as third early in the qualifying simulations.
He lapped 0.145s fastest than Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, with the second Renault of Carlos Sainz Jr ending up eighth.
Fernando Alonso was 10th fastest for McLaren, 1.150s off the pace, having benefitted from a tow from team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, who was on an in-lap, on the long back straight.
Force India driver Sergio Perez was 11th ahead of Bahrain Grand Prix hero Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso, with Ocon 13th.
Vandoorne was 14th fastest ahead of Brendon Hartley and Sergey Sirotkin.
Vandoorne’s session came to an early end with just under 15 minutes remaining when he stopped on track with a loose wheel.
Romain Grosjean had a spin onto the runoff at Turn 11 on his performance run, ending up 18th fastest behind the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc.
Lance Stroll was slowest having also spun on his qualifying simulation at the Turn 8 right hander, saying "I just lost the rear" over the radio.
Light rain fell in the closing stages of the session, although this was far too late to have any impact on the overall order, with Alonso, Hartley, Gasly, Perez, Ocon and Ericsson all briefly taking to the track on intermediate tyres.
Ericsson suffered a spin at the hairpin in the final minute, complaining about the brake map over the radio.
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m33.823s||0.341s||26|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m34.557s||1.075s||26|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m34.792s||1.310s||30|
|12||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m34.849s||1.367s||33|
|13||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m34.874s||1.392s||30|
|15||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m35.333s||1.851s||37|
Chinese GP: Lewis Hamilton fastest in FP1 ahead of Kimi Raikkonen
Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a comfortable advantage over Kimi Raikkonen in the opening practice session for Formula 1’s Chinese Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver was more than three tenths clear at the top of the times on Friday morning despite only using soft tyres compared to the Ferrari’s ultrasofts at the Shanghai circuit.
Raikkonen at least denied Mercedes a one-two, with Valtteri Bottas trailing Hamilton throughout the session and eventually dumped to third, almost half a second behind his team-mate.
Williams driver Lance Stroll was the first to record a time 15 minutes into the opening session on an overcast and chilly morning, but Mercedes was comfortably on top at the halfway mark.
Hamilton’s mid-session benchmark of 1m34.962s was set despite a slower middle sector than his previous lap and a slide exiting the final corner.
Times tumbled when the field returned to the ever-improving track, with Fernando Alonso the first to improve, leaping to fifth – one second off the pace at the time – with his first ultrasoft-tyre run of the day in the McLaren.
Nico Hulkenberg, running mediums, swiftly took that place by two tenths of a second, and his works Renault team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr rose to third on softs on a 1m35.616s.
More significant improvements swiftly followed, first as Bottas posted a 1m34.661s to briefly jump to the top of the times.
Hamilton, on fresh softs like his team-mate, resumed control almost immediately however, lapping nearly seven tenths faster as he snuck below the 1m34s barrier on a 1m33.999s.
His next attempt was scuppered by a Turn 11 spin just after posting the best time in the middle sector, and his Mercedes ended up facing the wrong way on the run-off.
Bottas pumped in another two fliers and improved his time but it was not enough to maintain Mercedes’ one-two.
Raikkonen split the Silver Arrows with an ultrasoft-assisted 1m34.358s to bump Bottas to third, just ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.
Max Verstappen was fifth despite spinning into the gravel on the outside of the final corner before the start of his first ultrasoft lap.
He resumed but, having flat-spotted that set of tyres, ended up 0.15s slower than his team-mate.
Sebastian Vettel ended up a subdued sixth, half a second behind Raikkonen with his best time on ultrasofts, as Haas claimed comfortable best-of-the-rest honours.
Kevin Magnussen used ultrasoft tyres to take seventh for the American team, more than four tenths clear of Sainz’s soft-shod Renault.
Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg (on softs, like Sainz) backed up their team-mates in ninth and 10th respectively.
Alonso was shuffled down to 12th behind Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso-Honda, which used soft tyres to Alonso’s ultrasofts.
It was a tricky session for McLaren, as Alonso’s team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne ended up 18th on the times after a trip through the Turn 10 gravel after losing the rear mid-corner.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m34.537s||0.538s||22|
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m34.668s||0.669s||22|
|11||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m36.037s||2.038s||21|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m36.051s||2.052s||28|
|14||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m36.351s||2.352s||32|
|16||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m36.715s||2.716s||23|
Bahrain F1 qualifying: Sebastian Vettel beats Kimi Raikkonen to pole
Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix after pipping Ferrari Formula 1 team-mate Kimi Raikkonen by 0.143s.
Raikkonen had the advantage after the first runs in Q3 by 0.095s from Vettel, but failed to improve on his second run.
Vettel, who had a precautionary change of the control electronics of his power unit ahead of qualifying, then banged in a lap of 1m27.958s using the supersofts that were the tyre of choice to secure his 51st F1 pole position.
Valtteri Bottas was third, just 23 thousandths of a second behind Raikkonen after making a two-tenths improvement on his final lap.
That put him just ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who has a five-place grid penalty so is set to line up ninth.
Hamilton was the only driver to set his Q2 time using soft-compound Pirellis, so he will start the race on that tyre.
Daniel Ricciardo was fifth fastest, almost two-tenths slower than Hamilton and nearly a second clear of the chasing pack.
Pierre Gasly put in a superb performance to secure his best qualifying result in F1 with sixth place, and is set to move up to fifth on the grid thanks to Hamilton’s penalty.
Kevin Magnussen was just 29 thousandths of a second slower in seventh, with the Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr sandwiching the Force India of Esteban Ocon in ninth.
Brendon Hartley missed out on making it two Toro Rossos in Q3 by less than a tenth of a second, after a small mistake in the final corner on his only effort in Q2 using fresh supersofts left him 11th.
That put him just ahead of Sergio Perez in the second Force India, with the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne never looking to have top 10 pace and ending up 13th and 14th after struggling for grip.
Max Verstappen lost the rear of his Red Bull and spun exiting the slow Turn 2 left-hander while on the fourth lap of his Q1 run.
He hit the barrier with his front wing and front left wheel, which led to the session being red flagged with five-and-half minutes remaining.
Verstappen ended Q1 fourth fastest, so technically made it to Q2, but was unable to run again after the crash and was classified 15th.
Romain Grosjean was fastest of those eliminated in Q1 despite setting an identical lap time to Alonso in the first segment of qualifying.
The Haas driver’s late 1m30.530s lap during the five-and-a-half minutes of running after the red flag caused by Verstappen left him down in 16th and ranked behind Alonso, thanks to the McLaren driver setting his time first.
Grosjean subsequently complained over the radio about his outlap being "a mess".
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson failed to improve on his third and final Q1 run and ended up 17th ahead of Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin, who had to rely on his first-run time.
Charles Leclerc declared himself to be "so stupid" over the radio after spinning at the final corner on his last lap and ending up 19th.
His best lap, set on the second of three sets of tyres as the Sauber drivers and Hartley managed to squeeze in two runs before the red flag, was just 0.006s slower than Sirotkin.
Lance Stroll was slowest, the Williams driver just under a tenth slower than Leclerc.
Bahrain GP grid
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m28.398s||0.440s|
|5||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m29.329s||1.371s|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m29.874s||1.916s|
|11||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m30.105s||2.147s|
|12||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m30.156s||2.198s|
|15||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||–||–|
Bahrain GP F1 practice: Kimi Raikkonen fastest ahead of Red Bulls in FP3
Kimi Raikkonen’s strong form ahead of Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying continued as the Ferrari driver set the pace again in Saturday practice.
Raikkonen, who was quickest on Friday, enjoyed an advantage of half a second in FP3 as some of his rivals failed to produce representative lap times.
Teams were hesitant to hit the track given qualifying and Sunday’s race will be held in different conditions, and it took 20 minutes for Carlos Sainz Jr to end the wait for a lap time.
Sainz’s 1m33.893s was never going to be a benchmark that stood for long, and Valtteri Bottas’s supersoft-shod Mercedes quickly displaced the Renault with a 1m30.781s.
Lewis Hamilton could not better his team-mate’s time and lapped just under two-tenths slower, allowing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to nip between the two Mercedes on soft tyres just after the half-hour mark.
Ferrari came to the fore with 20 minutes of the session remaining.
Sebastian Vettel was first to strike, emerging from the pits after repair work to fix the right-hand side bargeboard’s lower fixing, which he had broken on a kerb.
The four-time champion used supersofts to edge just ahead of Bottas on a 1m30.719s, but with yesterday’s best times being in the 1m29s there always looked like room for improvement.
Raikkonen did not take long to prove that, setting the best time in all three sectors to end up on a 1m29.868s.
His effort was marginally slower than his Friday benchmark but enough to put him well clear as the rest of the order was only settled in the final minutes.
Track temperature fell from 40C to 36C by the end of the session, which is when most of the field posted their best times.
Hamilton looked to have shaded Vettel and Bottas for best-of-the rest honours, despite running very wide exiting the final corner, but Verstappen snatched second in the final five minutes.
Verstappen then almost collided with Raikkonen at Turn 1 when the Finn emerged from the pitlane just after Verstappen had completed his flying lap.
Daniel Ricciardo replicated his team-mate’s late charge by lapping 0.06s slower moments later, which bumped Hamilton – whose five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change has been confirmed – to fourth.
Vettel and Bottas did not return to the track after setting their respective bests, but the Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Sainz left it late to claim seventh and eighth.
Pierre Gasly continued Toro Rosso-Honda’s strong weekend with the ninth-best time, ahead of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren.
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m30.393s||0.525s||8|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m30.452s||0.584s||8|
|9||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m31.438s||1.570s||18|
|11||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m31.460s||1.592s||18|
|13||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m31.554s||1.686s||17|
|14||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m31.564s||1.696s||14|
Formula 1: Raikkonen escapes grid penalty as Ferrari is fined
Kimi Raikkonen has escaped a grid penalty at the Bahrain Grand Prix despite his Formula 1 car being released with a loose wheel after a practice pit stop error.
The Finn set the pace in FP2 at the Sakhir circuit before stopping in the pits for a practice stop near the end of the session.
But a problem with the right front corner meant the wheel was not properly attached as he was released back out on to the track.
The FIA is strict when it comes to cars being allowed back on track with loose wheels in practice sessions – and the normal procedure is for a grid penalty to be imposed.
However, following a stewards hearing, it was decided that such a harsh sanction was not needed on this occasion because Ferrari had done everything possible to minimise the risks of the wheel coming off.
Instead, the FIA handed out a €5000 fine to the Maranello outfit.
An FIA statement said: "The stewards reviewed the video of the pitstop of Raikkonen at 19:14 and heard from the team representatives.
"The stewards determined that the car was released in an unsafe condition in breach of Art. 28.13.b, that the team ordered the car stopped immediately, and that the driver stopped as fast as he safely could.
"Consistent with previous instances where a car was stopped on track, the stewards decide that the mandatory grid place penalty could not be applied where the team took all appropriate actions, the stewards fined the team €5,000."
Speaking after the session, Raikkonen played down the tyre drama – and was not getting too carried away with his promising Friday form.
"I felt some vibrations and it was loose and we had to stop," he said.
"It’s impossible to say what everybody is doing but not too bad.
"There’s things we have to improve but it’s a normal Friday when you try things to test you try to learn from them."
Kimi and Seb look ahead to the remainder of the weekend
Sakhir – Topping the timesheets on Friday does not bring any points, and Scuderia Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel are well aware that the Bahrain weekend has just begun. Nevertheless, their comments after the first day of practice reflected the hard work that the whole team had carried out. Kimi had to pull off the track and stop the car right at the end of the session due to a loose front right wheel, when his pitwall promptly informed him that something wasn’t right.
“It was a pretty straightforward day and the car felt ok”, said Kimi. “As on any Friday, we tried different things, tested and learned as much as possible. The feeling was pretty much the same everywhere, but in certain zones of the track we want to do better. If we look purely at lap times it was OK, but that doesn’t tell you much; It’s only the first day and it’s impossible to know what the others were doing. At the end of the second session, right after the pit-stop, I felt some vibrations in the car and the team told me to slow down and park the car. We found out that the front wheel was a bit loose, so we had to stop. For sure we still have to improve; tonight we’ll put all the data together to try and do even better”.
Formula 1: Raikkonen quickest for Ferrari but risks grid penalty
Ferrari Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen topped the second free practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix, but risks a penalty after pulling off with a loose wheel.
Raikkonen was third fastest in the early running, behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas using the soft compound Pirellis.
Raikkonen was the first driver to bolt on the super-soft Pirellis to complete a qualifying simulation, setting a best lap of 1m28.817s on his initial flier.
Raikkonen went on to do long-run work, but having done a lengthy stint on the super-softs he bolted on softs and was sent back out, only to stop on his outlap with a loose front-right wheel with 14 minutes remaining.
Stewards will investigate the incident after the session, and do have the power to issue grid penalties for unsafe releases in practice sessions.
Raikkonen’s super-soft time was never beaten, although Vettel ended up just 0.011s behind on his qualifying simulation after setting a strong pace in the second and third sectors of the Sakhir circuit.
Bottas was third, 0.552s slower than Vettel, although Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton should have been ahead of him.
On his fastest lap, Hamilton was on target to go third but was held up by Haas driver Kevin Magnussen in the final right-hander.
Hamilton wound up 0.655s off the pace, but was over three-tenths off the best time set in the final sector on that lap.
Hamilton earlier had an off at the first corner after locking up on his first set of tyres, running onto the asphalt runoff before re-joining.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was fifth fastest, but complained of a lack of power and was disappointed with his qualifying simulation as he ended up 0.928s off the pace.
But that was enough to put him just ahead of team-mate and FP1 pacesetter Daniel Ricciardo, who was a further six-thousandths of a second back.
Best of the rest was Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg, who was 1.403s off the pace.
A surprise challenger for that position was Toro Rosso-Honda driver Pierre Gasly, who put in a lap just 0.012s slower to beat McLaren pairing Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne to eighth place.
Romain Grosjean was 11th fastest for Haas ahead of the second Renault of Carlos Sainz Jr and the Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez.
Charles Leclerc was 16th, 2.555s off the pace, while Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson was 19th after surviving a spin into the gravel after losing the rear at the exit of Turn 2.
The Sauber duo was split by the two Williams drivers – Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin – with Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley last.
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m30.745s||0.928s||32|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m30.751s||0.934s||31|
|8||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m31.232s||1.415s||38|
|13||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m31.809s||1.992s||31|
|14||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m31.868s||2.051s||34|
|20||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m32.908s||3.091s||38|
Bahrain GP F1 practice: Daniel Ricciardo fastest for Red Bull in FP1
Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest time in the first Formula 1 practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix as Red Bull had the edge on a tight Mercedes/Ferrari battle.
Ricciardo leapt to the top of the leaderboard late in the opening 90-minute session at the Sakhir circuit to go three tenths clear of Valtteri Bottas.
Kimi Raikkonen lapped within a tenth of the lead Mercedes, with Sebastian Vettel just 0.012s further back in the daylight session.
As qualifying and the race will be held after sunset, teams were happy to wait to get proper running under way.
After initial benchmarks from the Force India drivers and Ricciardo’s Red Bull, Mercedes developed a monopoly on the lead position for much of the session.
Hamilton and Bottas took turns in front with Hamilton’s 1m32.532s the benchmark at the session’s mid-point.
When running resumed after a short break, during which track temperature fell from 42C to 39C, Hamilton made a mistake on his next soft-tyre run.
Though he improved on his second flying lap Hamilton wound up 0.9s behind Bottas, who made the best of his new tyres and hammered in a 1m31.364s.
The two Ferrari drivers jumped into the chasm of lap time between the Mercedes drivers with 20 minutes remaining.
Red Bull’s session was threatening to turn out miserably as Max Verstappen suffered a loss of power early on and Ricciardo stayed in the garage after his early foray on medium tyres.
Verstappen – who had to push his car back to the pits – did not emerge again, ending the session with just two laps completed and no time set as Red Bull changed his engine manifold assembly.
However, Ricciardo headed out in the final 20 minutes on soft tyres and made an immediate impact with a 1m31.060s, 0.304s quicker than Bottas.
Haas again emerged best of the rest behind the big three teams, with Romain Grosjean 1.4s off the pace in sixth and team-mate Kevin Magnussen also in the top 10 in ninth as both used supersoft tyres.
Pierre Gasly complained of traction problems early in the session but recovered to set the seventh-fastest time, 1.7s off the pace, with soft tyres on his Toro Rosso.
The Red Bull junior team has been given upgraded engine parts by Honda for this race after turbo and MGU-H problems were identified in Australia and was confident its car would suit the low-speed parts of Bahrain well.
Gasly outpaced several cars on supersofts, including the Renaults of Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Hulkenberg (eighth and 10th) and both McLarens.
Charles Leclerc was another star performer on softs. Despite spinning early in the session the Sauber driver slotted into 12th, between the supersoft-shod McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne as they evaluated the upgrades that were originally planned for the opening race in Australia.
|1||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m31.060s||–||14|
|7||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m32.779s||1.719s||26|
|16||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m33.497s||2.437s||27|
|18||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m33.662s||2.602s||26|
|19||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m33.794s||2.734s||23|
|20||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||–||–||2|
Australian Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton pole, Bottas crashes
Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the 2018 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix, while Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas crashed out of qualifying.
Hamilton looked under pressure after the first Q3 runs, but put in a stunning final lap to take pole position by 0.664 seconds from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Although Sebastian Vettel had been just 0.034s behind Hamilton following the initial Q3 laps, he couldn’t find enough time on his final run to keep his team-mate at bay or pressure the Mercedes driver. Vettel suggested he had pushed too hard in Turn 13 on his last lap as he had to settle for third.
Bottas was consigned to 10th after crashing at Turn 2 on his first flying lap in Q3.
The Mercedes driver hit the inside kerb at Turn 1, which appeared to push him deep mid-corner and meant he skimmed the damp grass with his left-rear wheel.
He attempted to hold it through the second part of the right/left, but lost the rear and backed into the wall – coming to rest in the middle of the track.
Max Verstappen, who had been just over half-a-tenth off Hamilton after the first Q3 runs, ended up fourth after losing the rear through the Turn 13 right-hander. Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was next up but has a three-place grid penalty for his Friday red flag infringement.
While ultrasofts were the tyres of choice for the rest of the field throughout qualifying, the two Red Bull drivers will start on the supersofts having used them to set their Q2 times.
Haas pairing Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean made good on the team’s promising testing and practice pace with sixth and seventh fastest, albeit two seconds off the pace.
Thanks to Ricciardo’s penalty and Bottas’s crash, Haas is therefore set to start with a third-row lockout.
Renault pairing Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr were eighth and ninth, with the German shading his team-mate by just under half a tenth.
Fernando Alonso was eliminated in Q2 after failing to improve on his second run, having a moment at Turn 3 and ending up three tenths slower than his earlier attempt.
That was enough to put him 11th ahead of McLaren-Renault team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
Sergio Perez admitted Force India "has work to do" after ending up 13th, one place ahead of Williams driver Lance Stroll.
Stroll, like Alonso, overdid it into Turn 3 but then ran through the gravel, meaning he was unable to improve on his first-run pace.
Esteban Ocon completed a difficult day for Force India, aborting his first run in Q2 and then lapping just over half a second slower than Stroll to end up 15th.
Toro Rosso-Honda’s Brendon Hartley was quickest of the five drivers eliminated in the first segment of qualifying, missing out on a place in Q2 by just 29 thousandths of a second to Ocon.
The two Sauber drivers both completed three runs, with Marcus Ericsson ending up 17th fastest and less than a tenth ahead of rookie team-mate Charles Leclerc.
Leclerc complained of an error at the Turn 4 left-hander that cost him a shot at advancing to Q2.
Williams debutant Sergey Sirotkin was outside the dropzone after the first Q1 runs in 15th place, but was shuffled down to 19th by the end of the session despite improving by just over three tenths on his second run.
That put him ahead only of the second Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly, whose final attempt was ruined by locking up and running off track and through the gravel at the Turn 3 right-hander.
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m21.879s||0.715s|
|8||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m22.152s||0.988s|
|12||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m24.005s||–|
|14||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m24.786s||–|
|16||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m24.532s||–|
|20||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m25.295s||–|
Australian Grand Prix practice: Vettel leads Ferrari one-two
Sebastian Vettel timed his fastest lap perfectly on a drying track in Melbourne to lead a Ferrari one-two in final practice for the Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver was one of a handful to gamble on the ultrasoft tyre in the dying seconds of the hour-long session, which had for the most part been limited to running on intermediates thanks to morning storms over Melbourne.
It was a gamble that played off, Vettel going fastest at the flag with a 1m26.067s that left him more than two seconds clear of the rest of the field.
Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson were second and third quickest, having also run the ultrasoft right at the end of the session, while Max Verstappen was the best of those to have not sampled a slick down in fourth.
Wet conditions thanks to the morning thunderstorms meant the first 10 minutes was mostly exploratory running on the full wets, Fernando Alonso the first to brave the intermediates seven minutes in.
Even then nobody bothered to set a time until the 18-minute mark, when Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg went top by default with a 1m40.863s on the intermediates despite a massive moment on the way out of Turn 10.
Hulkenberg made progress on his next two laps, dipping into the 1m38s, before Verstappen took over at the top with a 1m37.419s on his first flyer.
He made swift work of his own benchmark too, a 1m35.548s on the same run leaving him the best part of two seconds clear of the field.
Right before the midway point of the session Daniel Ricciardo closed the gap to his team-mate to 0.4s, at which point conditions were judged good enough to enable DRS.
Five minutes later times began to tumble, Ricciardo going fastest with a 1m35.265s before being topped by Alonso’s 1m34.298s.
The two Mercedes drivers then drifted to the top, Valtteri Bottas taking over first place with a 1m34.174s as Lewis Hamilton slotted in behind, 0.051s off his team-mate.
Hamilton was short on running up to that point having been delayed by an issue when trying to make his first run 25 minutes in. "I can’t pull away," he told the team over the radio and had to await a steering wheel change before he could exit the garage 10 minutes later.
Bottas’s time stood until the final two minutes, when the timesheet came alive with a mix of drivers switching to ultrasofts and others making the most of the near-dry conditions on intermediates.
First it was Carlos Sainz Jr that went quickest on a set of intermediates, before Verstappen, also on the inters, jumped him by 1.5s with a 1m31.680s.
Vettel, who had been the very first to roll out of pitlane on slicks, then went more than five seconds clear of everyone with his 1m26.067s, the margin shrinking back to 2.4s when Raikkonen and Ericsson completed their ultrasoft laps at the flag.
Ricciardo made a late gain on the intermediate to slot into sixth behind Verstappen and Sainz, while Bottas and Hamilton were bumped down to seventh and eighth respectively.
Stoffel Vandoorne and Alonso rounded out the top 10, McLaren having flirted with the idea of a slick tyre but ultimately opted against a late switch.
Elsewhere in the field, Lance Stroll’s running was limited by a gearbox repair that meant he didn’t get on-track until there was just 16 minutes to go. The Canadian wound up 14th, three-tenths behind rookie team-mate Sergey Sirotkin.
The Force Indias effectively did no running at all, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez left anchored to the bottom of the timesheet having only come out for installation laps at the start.
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m31.680s||5.613s||8|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m34.043s||7.976s||14|
|11||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m34.990s||8.923s||16|
|12||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m35.438s||9.371s||16|
|19||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||–||–||1|
|20||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||–||–||1|