Hello and welcome everybody to our coverage of the first free practice session at the Bahrain International Circuit. The Judge and our project manager have been so kind as to flood the commentary booth to accommodate the Hippo, so we’re all set for ninety minutes of running.
This page will be updated about every ten to fifteen minutes.
The temperatures in the Sakhir desert are well north of thirty degrees centigrade (Three million Fahrenheit for those on the wrong side of the pond) and the track looks like the sandbox we used to play in as kids, except that ours had a little less sand in it.
Lift Off, we have Lift Off!
The two Ferrari’s don’t waste time and go out immediately. Bottas is out as well.
Dear viewers, this is a rare recording of a McLaren-Honda in its natural habitat. Please note how stationary it is. Jenson Button shakes his head in disbelief as he climbs from his stricken car in turn one. Even Kvyat’s Renault should beat that distance.
Button’s spin looked as if the engine or the gearbox got jammed, it looked as if someone pulled the handbrake. A tenner on the engine, if you ask me. Meanwhile Nico Rosberg is the first to complete a timed lap but since there was yellow in turn one, it’s of little importance what the Rolex says.
Now he posts a 1:40.077 under green conditions. That’s a healthy three seconds slower than last years FP1 time. We’ll have to wait a bit until the sand has been cleaned off the surface. Perhaps they should wheel out last year’s Ferrari. It looked suspiciously like a vacuum cleaner…
Most drivers stay in the pits, but the two Mercedes drivers are busy collecting mileage. I wonder what Hamilton’s program is. Unlike Rosberg he hasn’t used DRS once as far as I can make out.
With Jolyon Palmer in the Lotus, there’s only one ‘Friday driver’ today and for reasons that completely elude my understanding, the Enstone team decided to park birthday kid RoGro instead of the volatile Venezuelan. Happy Birthday anyway, Romain.
The action has picked up, but the times are positively pedestrian in comparison to last year. This year’s Pirelli tyres are not quite as conservatively constructed as last year’s offering and it shows. Sauber telegraphs Ericsson that – as expected – the tyres are overheating. The rough surface of the track certainly doesn’t help much, too. Two Mercedes strategists are reported to have wet themselves.
As we reported, the numero uno engines in the two Ferrari’s have been found to be on the brink of a slow death and it appears that Vettel’s is the first to give up the ghost. The German just about manages to limp home while his team mate takes the lead.
Meanwhile McLaren reports that Jenson’s spin was indeed caused by his engine cutting off. The Hippo pockets a tenner…
The first half hour is over and the drivers have to return their extra set of tyres. Williams hopefully double check they do so, as they have already been penalized once this year for failing to do so.
As the action has slowed down somewhat, we have the two Ferraris up front, but still way off last year’s times. Rosberg and Hamilton are far back. They haven’t tried particularly hard yet. But maybe they’ll do now. The two Mercs venture out on track.
Halfway into the session and the pace of the two Mercedes is a bit… um… catholic, but they’re certainly gathering mileage. Since everybody reckons this is a track that favours Ferrari’s gentle touch on the Pirelli’s they most likely test how some disciplined, orderly German love goes along with the Italian rubber.
HAM’s ham’s gettin’ a cookin’ again. It’s China all over again as Lewis complains about his seat heater.
If a Force India shows up in third position, you know they aren’t really trying. Hülkenberg goes third. Scratch that – Checo Perez has just gone fastest. LOL is the wo… Oh the hilarity – a McLaren in the top spot!
Is there a doctor in the audience? Someone familiar with CPR on a Hippopotamus amphibious? Please?
Jeder darf mal, wer hat noch nich?
It’s Max Verstappen who gets his twenty odd seconds in the limelight, while Pastor does a precautionary test of the grip conditions in the local gravel trap. Lewis meanwhile keeps complaining about his hot derrière.
The Ferrari crew doesn’t even work on Vettel’s Ferrari and Kimi has been absent for quite a while too. Unconfirmed word from the pits is that there is a problem on Vettel’s engine, but it’s not terminal. So much was obvious as he made it back home instead of burning in the gravel trap. However it doesn’t look as if he will rejoin either as the German sits in the pits without his helmet.
Bottas goes first. If someone is wondering why there is relatively little action on track; the temperatures are way higher than what they will be in qualifying and race. Hence the data collected now are quite close to useless. Free Practice two will be extremely important. Missing that is a sure way of wasting a perfectly usable weekend. This is a unique feature of an evening race in a hot region of the planet.
Not to be outdone by a Venezuelan, who hasn’t yet grasped the fact that the transparent bit of the helmet goes to the front, Bottas and Hülkenberg sample the gravel trap at turn 10 too. Vettel, always the detail-obsessed German had done so even before Pastor.
Aaand I have been spectacularly wrong yet again as Vettel goes out, but his engine sounds a wee bit sick. “Stay out, we’re checking the data,” say the boffins behind the pitwall. Word is he’s just been overtaken by a camel on the back straight.
Rosberg, who has already abandoned his car, and Lewis, who allegedly is sitting on the team’s freezer in the motorhome, are in 15th and 16th position right now. FP1 seems to be quite a useless exercise today.
“only to confuse the Russians [and the Hippo]” seems to be the motto of the day as Vettel’s ragged sounding engine is good for a new fastest time, but just moments later the ice man goes quicker still. It’s Ferrari 1,2 with Merc nowhere. Accounts for nothing, but the strategy meeting in the Merc camp may be ninety minutes this weekend.
Danny Ricciardo complains about understeer and a loose tail-end in fast corners, oh and bad traction. I believe the word you’re looking for starts with S and ends with T, has four letters, and it isn’t ‘Soot’.
There’s the table cloth!!
For the first time Kimi wins a session ahead of his team mate this year in 2015’s most pointless practice session so far.
|4.||Carlos Sainz jr||Toro Rosso||1:38.447||+0.620||14|
|5.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||1:38.455||+0.628||17|
|6.||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:38.504||+0.677||22|
|9.||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Racing||1:38.661||+0.834||17|
|11.||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:38.793||+0.966||15|
|13.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India||1:39.187||+1.360||20|
|15.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:39.293||+1.466||23|
|16.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes GP||1:39.532||+1.705||22|
|18.||Will Stevens||Manor F1 Team||1:42.973||+5.146||12|
|19.||Roberto Merhi||Manor F1 Team||1:44.265||+6.438||15|
|20.||Jenson Button||McLaren||no time||2|