Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel topped a tentative first and more representative second practice to begin Formula One's Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday, as the drivers sought to negotiate scorching conditions.
With a track temperature of 40 degrees centigrade, the teams opted not to push things too hard in the initial runs, with the focus on logging laps and accruing key testing data.
But it was Vettel who negotiated the Bahrain International Circuit the best to begin with, with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton languishing down in 10th.
The second session was run in lower temperatures, and once again Vettel proved faster than Hamilton, who struggled to get a good lap in on the super soft tyres. The Brit did improve significantly and should be a contender on Saturday and Sunday.
Here's a look at the times from the second session, courtesy of F1's official Twitter account:
As shared by F1's official Twitter account, track temperatures dropped ahead of the second practice session, and the recorded times were expected to be closer to Sunday's pace:
Ferrari and Haas didn't waste any time to start the second session, and Vettel continued his superb pace with a quickest lap of 1:32.615 after just a few minutes.
Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen beat that time on the soft tyres, while Hamilton made an error and had to abort his run. With track conditions changing rapidly, the initial runs seemed little more than a dress rehearsal for the runs on the super softs.
But while the temperatures were dropping, it was still scorching hot under the articifial lights, and less than 20 minutes into the session, Carlos Sainz's Toro Rosso ground to a halt. As shared by Autosport Live, it was a rather spectacular sight:
After 30 minutes the top teams came out on the super softs, and again, Vettel set the first fastest lap, a 1:31.310. Surprisingly, Hamilton made a similar error that resulted in another failed attempt at a fast time.
When the Brit did complete a full run, he fell just short of Vettel's top time, another indication Ferrari may be better suited to racing in these conditions.
Red Bull were off the pace for much of the session but Daniel Ricciardo surprised with a good lap on the super softs, going third ahead of Raikkonen and Bottas. F1 Madness were impressed:
Ferrari ran into trouble after the fast runs, as Vettel pulled to the side of the track shortly after emerging from the pit lane. Per Autosport Live, he described what happened over the team radio:
He didn't spend too much time in the pits, but two major issues in two sessions are a bad omen for Ferrari heading into Saturday's qualifying sessions.
Max Verstappen had an unfortunate incident that limited the amount of laps he managed, as he ran over the T-wing that fell off Bottas' car.
The Formula One Twitter feed provided us with the results in full from an intriguing first session in Bahrain:
As the session started, the sun beat down on the track in Bahrain, making for extremely difficult conditions for all those involved in the racing. A lot of drivers were complaining of a lack of grip, which was to be expected in such surroundings.
For Raikkonen's Ferrari, the heat did prove to be a little too much, as smoke started to pillar out of the back of his vehicle.
He didn't return after being winched back to the garage, with Ferrari later confirming he'd suffered with "overheating in turbo area"; as noted by Phil Duncan of the Press Association, the Finn cut a lonely figure:
Back on track, it was Sergio Perez who had moved to the top of the standings in the Force India, although Vettel was able to usurp him on the soft compound.
It's anticipated that while Sunday's race will be much cooler than Friday's early session, the desert conditions may favour the Ferrari over the Mercedes. And Vettel, tied on points with Hamilton atop the standings, added credence to that view.
Per the F1 Twitter account, the mark set by Vettel was comfortably quicker than what any of his rivals had been able to muster:
McLaren—who confirmed on Friday that Jenson Button would be the man to replace Fernando Alonso at the Monaco Grand Prix this season, per BBC Sport—were doing their best to stay refreshed in the punishing heat:
Behind Vettel, the Red Bull duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen moved up into second and third spot. While the Mercedes pair of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas seemed content to wait until FP2 before showing their true pace, as they were 10th and 14th quickest, respectively.