Bahrain Grand Prix: Friday Practice Recap

Event:  Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 (FP1 and FP2) 

Date:  Friday, April 14

Location:  Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir

Layout:  5.412-kilometer (3.363-mile), 15-turn track

FP1 Weather:  Sunny

FP1 Air Temps:  36.1-38.1 degrees Celsius (97-100.6 degrees Fahrenheit)

FP1 Track Temps:  37.8-47.5 degrees Celsius (100-117.5 degrees Fahrenheit)

FP2 Weather:  Clear

FP2 Air Temps:  30.4-35.9 degrees Celsius (86.7-96.6 degrees Fahrenheit)

FP3 Track Temps:  31-36.6 degrees Celsius (87.8-97.9 degrees Fahrenheit)

Drivers:  Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen

Grosjean:  9th quick (1:34.564), 21 laps completed

Magnussen:  16th quick (1:35.579), 21 laps completed

Fastest Driver:  Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari (1:32.697)

Most Laps:  Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes (28 laps)

Grosjean:  9th quick (1:32.505), 34 laps completed

Magnussen:  11th quick (1:32.854), 33 laps completed

Fastest Driver:  Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari (1:31.310)

Most Laps:  Esteban Ocon of Force India and Jolyon Palmer of Renault (38 laps)

The third round of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship began with practice Friday at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir as teams prepared for the Bahrain Grand Prix Sunday.

Two 90-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 5.412-kilometer (3.363-mile), 15-turn track took place amid extremely hot conditions, a marked contrast following the cold, rain-soaked Chinese Grand Prix last weekend in Shanghai. 

FP1 began under full sun with Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen following similar run programs. Each driver logged 21 laps in FP1, running the first half of the session on the Pirelli P Zero White medium tire before switching to the Yellow soft compound.

Grosjean ran 11 laps on the medium tire and Magnussen tallied 10 laps. The switch to softs earned both drivers their fastest times of the session, with Grosjean recording a 1:34.564 on his 14th lap and Magnussen ringing up a 1:35.579 on his 13th lap. The times placed Grosjean ninth and Magnussen 16th overall.

Leading the way in FP1 was Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, whose fast lap of 1:32.697 was .400 of a second better than the next quickest driver, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

As the sun dropped over the horizon and the track’s floodlights illuminated the desert circuit, lap times continued to drop, eclipsing the race lap record of 1:31.447 set by Pedro de la Rosa in 2005 with McLaren and inching ever closer to the qualifying record of 1:29.493 set last year by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

Grosjean bettered his FP1 mark by 2.059 seconds with a time of 1:32.505 on his 10th lap shod on a set of Red supersoft tires. And Magnussen also improved, shaving 2.725 seconds off his FP1 time with a 1:32.854 on his ninth tour, also on supersofts.

Both drivers followed the same run program, beginning FP2 on Yellow softs before switching to Red supersofts for a mock qualifying effort. The two drivers then ran stints on used soft and supersoft compounds, with Grosjean tallying 34 laps and Magnussen 33 laps.  

Vettel remained the fastest driver Friday, with a quick FP2 time of 1:31.310 keeping him atop the speed charts. The fast lap was .041 of a second better than the next best lap put up by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.

Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 109 laps – 55 by Grosjean and 54 by Magnussen. 

“It was a pretty solid day. It was very warm – the first time we’ve had those conditions this year. We need to keep working on the car. Clearly, tires are having a tough time on the long runs. A qualifying lap is only a lap, so it’s pretty fun. There’s a lot of work to be done for tomorrow, but as I said, it’s the first time we’ve had the warmer conditions this year. There’s a lot to learn from today, and hopefully we can find a little bit of performance for tomorrow.”

“We had a decent day. We have some interesting things to look at for tomorrow, but so far things are not too bad.”

“It was a good day for us. For sure, it was our best Friday this year. We completed our programs in FP1 and FP2. The car seems to be competitive, as well, for points. Now we’ll go look and see what we can do better and come back tomorrow.”

Drivers have one more practice session on Saturday (15:00-16:00) before qualifying starts at 18:00. Qualifying consists of three rounds, with the 15 fastest drivers from Q1 moving on to Q2. Then, the 10 fastest drivers from Q2 advance to Q3 where they’ll battle for the pole.