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.
The F1 Twitter account relayed the results of the second practice session:
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:
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:
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.
Here's the classification from Friday's first session:
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:
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:
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.