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Bahrain F1 Grand Prix 2019 Qualifying: Results, Times from Friday's Practice

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2019

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 29: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Scuderia Ferrari SF90 on track during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 29, 2019 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
Charles Coates/Getty Images

Ferrari dominated the first day of the 2019 Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix, with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel topping first and second practice, respectively.

At a circuit where Ferrari have been tough to beat in the last two years, their drivers made a big statement in the first runs.

Leclerc was almost a second quicker than Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in FP1, while Vettel topped the charts later in the day, with Lewis Hamilton 0.603 seconds behind him. The Scuderia enjoyed one-twos in both of the day's 90-minute sessions.

The drivers are back in action again on Saturday, as they face final practice and then an intriguing qualifying session. Remarkably, the drivers may have to contend with some rain in the desert in qualifying, with the forecast saying there’s a 62 per cent chance of showers on Day 2.

Here is a look at how Friday’s action played out.

  

FP2 Recap

The F1 Twitter account relayed the results of the second practice session:

Formula 1 @F1

It's been a good day for the team in red 👊 #BahrainGP 🇧🇭 #F1 https://t.co/XqCnQhe7C9

Following their dominant performance in the morning runs, Ferrari ensured they remained in control in the second session.

After trailing his team-mate in the morning, Vettel was able to set the benchmark later in the day, as he posted a mark of one minute, 28.846 seconds despite running wide into the final corner. 

That was enough to see him edge in front of Leclerc and keep out of the clutches of the Mercedes, who were initially six tenths slower. For the Silver Arrows, that was at least an improvement on the morning runs, where the gap had been closer to a second.

There was a scary moment for Vettel late in the session, though, as he joined the list of drivers to come unstuck at Turn 3:

Formula 1 @F1

He hasn't put a foot wrong all day, then... 😮 That's Sebastian Vettel behind all that tyre smoke #BahrainGP 🇧🇭 #F1 https://t.co/SJFIwgJWX7

One interesting decision made by Ferrari was their choice to use another set of fresh tyres in FP2, as it is  common practice to return for the second runs on used compounds. That means Ferrari will likely be slower in FP3, with more focus on qualifying.

As the Pirelli Motorsport Twitter account relayed, the pace is already up significantly on 2018 at this race:

Pirelli Motorsport @pirellisport

For those interested in what last year’s #FP2 benchmark was, the answer is 1m29.817s. We’re already significantly quicker than that. Last year’s pole was 1m27.958s. #Fit4F1

At the moment, Mercedes have ground to make up on Ferrari if they are going to be competitive come race day. However, we're likely to get a truer indication of their pace when the serious runs start in qualifying on Saturday.

                                      

FP1 Recap

Here's the classification from Friday's first session:

Formula 1 @F1

Ferrari on top after FP1 with @Charles_Leclerc leading the way 💪 #BahrainGP 🇧🇭 #F1 https://t.co/26mpJnEanI

After a slow start in the 28-degree heat, Red Bull's Max Verstappen set the first time of the day after almost 20 minutes.

Mercedes started out on medium tyres, perhaps wary of degradation:

Pirelli Motorsport @pirellisport

What you won’t see in this #FP1 session is many long runs: it’s too warm for these to be of any significant use. Tyre degradation is also going to be higher than it will in race conditions – on the most abrasive track of the year. #Fit4F1 @BAH_Int_Circuit

Verstappen battled with Valtteri Bottas and Vettel for P1, with Mercedes getting quicker after a swap to soft tyres, but it was Leclerc stole a march on the chasing pack with his best effort shortly before the hour-mark.

Meanwhile, Racing Point's Lance Stroll struggled to get going and soon had to return to the pits after a spin:

Formula 1 @F1

Steady, Lance 😮 Those tyres are cooked, and there's some front wing damage after the Canadian spins #BahrainGP 🇧🇭 #F1 https://t.co/G8GgxWYyV4

After an hour, the Canadian had completed just four laps and had not set a representative time, so he did well to get 16 under his belt by the chequered flag.

He wasn't the only driver to go for a spin, as George Russell lost his rear at Turn 2 late in the session.

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