Published: Mon, April 09, 2018
Sports | By Toni Houston

Ricciardo fastest in 1st Bahrain practice

Ricciardo fastest in 1st Bahrain practice

Red Bull was frequently adrift of the Mercedes/Ferrari axis across one-lap in 2017, and again Ricciardo was unable to live with the pace of its opponents, as he wound up fifth fastest.

The Australian's lap put him fifth on the grid but, after applying Lewis Hamilton's grid penalty, he'll move up to the second row.

However, Ricciardo finished the session within two-tenths of fourth-placed Lewis Hamilton, and within half a second of polesitter Sebastian Vettel.

But Verstappen's chances were shattered in the first qualifying session as he crashed into the barriers after losing the rear end of his vehicle at turn two. It was not as much as in the practice but there were still problems on the straight, just not the deployment I wanted, so the team told me to do another lap to try and calibrate it better. That shows how Gasly had to deliver and he duly did, with an impressive final run putting him best of the rest behind the Ferraris, Mercedes and Ricciardo. I think they did get better compared to past year.

"In a way it (qualifying) was maybe closer than we'd expected", said Ricciardo. "We know that in the race we are still struggling a little bit on this".

In the background, Toro Rosso-Honda and Haas impressed, while McLaren lost touch with those two teams after a promising start.

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As for the race, which Verstappen will have to start from fifteenth, he still sees some solid chances for himself in Bahrain. Practice and Qualifying are ok but Sunday is my favourite day of the week.

It could have been even worse as Alonso only escaped Q1 when Romain Grosjean ran wide and set an identical lap time to the Spaniard, but was ranked 16th as a result of setting the time second.

The team needs a good outing after the poor showing in Melbourne.

Raikkonen and Vettel were up front as cooler temperatures and nightfall matched the conditions for Sunday evening's race.

Overtaking - or the lack of it - was on the agenda after the Australian Grand Prix, with Albert Park once again proving to be a notoriously hard track to pass on with the current generation of auto. He got out and helped stewards wheel it back to the team garage. "So that's encouraging that our vehicle will be, I believe, better than we showed yesterday and hopefully it puts us in the fight".

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