(Motorsport-Total.com) – Hardly anyone would have expected: Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) stole the show from the top candidates and set the best time in his first free practice session for the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix. Gasly relegated Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to 0.364 and 0.418 seconds in a row.
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Pierre Gasly got the fastest time in his first free practice in Bahrain
However, the best time value is kept in mind with tire selection. Gasly set his fastest lap on a C3 tire, the smoothest compound Pirelli has offered this weekend. And according to Pirelli’s information on the test week, it was about eight tenths of a second faster than the C2, which the Ferraris set their best time.
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Live tape: Friday in Bahrain
Live broadcast: Analysis at 6:30 pm
Even if your first practice session is your first assessment of where you are this weekend: you don’t have to read too much in session times. The session started at 3:00 pm local time, i.e. in broad daylight and with a track temperature of 34 degrees. However, qualifying and racing take place under completely different conditions under the floodlights.
Verstappen & Hamilton: There is still a lot to do!
The candidates have not yet released their cards. World champion Max Verstappen (Red Bull) was fastest at the start of the session, but he didn’t follow suit and ended up in fifth place by 0.549sec. “Things are going well in Red Bull,” Sky expert Ralf Schumacher analyzes. “The cat is out of the bag.”
In the two fastest Mercedes, George Russell was 0.113sec faster than Verstappen. “In terms of speed, we still have work to do,” admits Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ chief racing engineer. “We’re experimenting. On a fast lap, we drove a softer compound than the cars we’d like to compete with.”
Lewis Hamilton (+0.750) finished seventh behind Russell, Verstappen and Lance Stroll (Aston Martin). But the result was not the priority. Mercedes played through different floor heights in the drill. “As long as we’re learning and the curve is high, that’s OK,” says Shovlin.
Russell noted on Pit Radio that the car was “more exposed to wind than last week,” but the wind was stronger for everyone than it was during testing. It is also possible that the cause of the spin was Leclerc, which had no consequences, and one or two brakes. Ralf Schumacher says Ferrari is doing as well as expected.
McLaren: New brake vents are working
You won’t find McLaren in the top ten. During testing, the front brakes warmed up and the modified ventilation brought them to their first laps in practice. “The brake ducts are working very well,” team boss Andreas Seidl says in an interview with Sky. “We’ve gone further to secure that.”
Two “things” were important to him: first, Daniel Ricciardo feeling fit again after contracting COVID-19. “Looks like he’s full of energy again,” Seidl nodded. And prepare for the race. GPS data shows that McLaren was traveling at a much lower top speed than the others. So there is still room for improvement.
“Our focus was really on brake cooling,” Seidl explains. “In terms of performance, we should talk again after the second training session. We will know more tonight when it gets cooler and everyone uses less gas and boosts the engine. It will be a huge success for us if we can make it 4th stronger up front.”
How did the training for Hulkenberg and Schumacher go?
And otherwise? Nico Hulkenberg, replacing Sebastian Vettel, who has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, completed 23 laps and finished 14th, 1.622 seconds behind. For him outside the simulator, this was his first lap with the 2022 Formula 1 car. Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo) impressed on his debut with the eleventh (0.860).
Mick Schumacher was still far from that at first. He finished 18th, 2.343sec, but was 0.268sec faster than new teammate Kevin Magnussen. His uncle Ralf Schumacher says the gap within the team is “not that bad”. Overall, the “white little Ferrari” “is not quite where I expected it to be”.
A little side note: It was only eight minutes before training first stopped. Esteban Ocon lost parts of his pink hull around the right side at the start and finish, which the track personnel should have picked up before continuing.
The red flag cost the teams twelve minutes of training time. The scene raised eyebrows in Alpine as this sideshow is an updated segment that will debut this weekend. In the end, Ocon finished 12th, 0.958 seconds.
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