Grand Prix of Bahrain – Free Practice 1 Report

bahrain_intl_circuit

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.

green 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’.

checkered 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.

  Driver Team Time Difference #
1. Finland Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:37.827 13
2. Germany Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:38.029 +0.202 12
3. Finland Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:38.390 +0.563 23
4. Spain Carlos Sainz jr Toro Rosso 1:38.447 +0.620 14
5. Australia Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:38.455 +0.628 17
6. Netherlands Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:38.504 +0.677 22
7. Spain Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:38.598 +0.771 18
8. Brazil Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:38.628 +0.801 17
9. Russia Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:38.661 +0.834 17
10. Brazil Felipe Massa Williams 1:38.790 +0.963 21
11. Mexico Sergio Perez Force India 1:38.793 +0.966 15
12. Venezuela Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:38.842 +1.015 23
13. Germany Nico Hülkenberg Force India 1:39.187 +1.360 20
14. Great Britain Jolyon Palmer Lotus 1:39.283 +1.456 31
15. Germany Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:39.293 +1.466 23
16. Great Britain Lewis Hamilton Mercedes GP 1:39.532 +1.705 22
17. Sweden Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:39.534 +1.707 21
18. Great Britain Will Stevens Manor F1 Team 1:42.973 +5.146 12
19. Spain Roberto Merhi Manor F1 Team 1:44.265 +6.438 15
20. Great Britain Jenson Button McLaren no time 2

12 responses to “Grand Prix of Bahrain – Free Practice 1 Report

  1. Lewis cockpit:
    Is it something to do with set up? Nico is not complaining so. And this is the third consecutive race of a hot cockpit

    • I would hazard a guess that he’s using a different sitting position. It seems to have some significance. Rosberg experimented with it what caused his back problems during the Jerez test and Bottas’ back problems were also aggravated by an experimental sitting position.

  2. Perhaps HAM should stop whining and remember that seat-heaters are an essential extra to any truly blinged-up set of wheels. I’m still waiting for Merc to fit the free-spinning wheel covers but, as it’s a night race this weekend, maybe we’ll be in luck with them sorting out some really cool blue under-floor lighting…..

    And to counter Bernie’s complaints about lack of engine noise, what about a top end sound system with a bank of 12″ speakers hanging off the rear wing ? Should be enough to engage with the target youth audience……

    • The target youth audience? You need to read up on that 1. Bernie doesnt like us kids…
      And this kid is can live with the current engines FYI.

      • I know he doesn’t ‘get’ youth…. that’s the point – put one over on him, the wizened old Grouch.

        Now, if only we could get the drivers to tweet or paste selfies on Facebook during the race, we’d be on a winner…..

        • D’oh… s/paste/post. Just in case anyone bothers to read the offending offering.

  3. Amazing, with the exception of the opt 3 teams, every other team (with the exception of Manor), including McLaren (!), were within half a second.

    Let’s hope this is prelude for a cracking race (at least for the mid-field teams and McLaren).

  4. I’m optimistic of a good weekend for Ferrari here, as Bahrain has a lot of straights. Ferrari are consistently good in the speed traps this year, and on a track where aero isn’t as important, such as China for instance, I think they could be up there in the race. You heard it here first!!

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