Ricciardo tops Bahrain GP first practice

Formula 1
Bahrain GP practiceGetty Images

Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest time in Bahrain Grand Prix first practice as the new Formula 1 season held on to its secrets for a little longer.

Ricciardo, driving for Red Bull’s RB team, used soft tyres to head McLaren’s Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

Fastest driver on the medium tyres was Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in fifth, ahead of hot pre-season favourite Max Verstappen.

Red Bull’s Verstappen spent the session complaining about his car’s behaviour.

But the three-time champion did give a hint of his potential when on his first flying lap in the session he went more than 0.6 seconds quicker than the next-fastest driver on theirs.

Red Bull’s operations were overseen by team principal Christian Horner, who remains in position following the conclusion of an internal investigation into a complaint of inappropriate behaviour towards a female colleague.

Red Bull’s head office in Austria issued a statement on Wednesday, on the eve of first practice, saying the complaint had been “dismissed”.

No details were given of the allegation or the investigation.

Rival teams up and down the pit lane expect Verstappen and Red Bull to dominate the season, but he spent the session complaining about inconsistent gearshifts – a recurring issue for him over the past two seasons, albeit one which had little effect on his control over the sport.

The Dutchman was actually the fastest of the runners on medium tyres, by 0.013secs over Mercedes’ George Russell, before Alonso set his faster lap later in the session when track conditions would have been more favourable.

Yuki Tsunoda continued the strong impression by the RB team with fourth-fastest time, 0.314secs off Ricciardo, who was just 0.032secs faster than Norris.

Russell, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was eighth fastest, ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, both on medium-compound tyres, and the Sauber of Valtteri Bottas on softs.

Carlos Sainz was 11th in the second Ferrari and Sergio Perez 12th in the second Red Bull on mediums.

A more accurate read of relative competitiveness is expected in the second session later on Thursday as the sun goes down and conditions will be more comparable to qualifying and the race.

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