Nico Rosberg led a Mercedes one-two in the first practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix but rivals Ferrari appeared to be concealing their pace.
While the Mercedes pair favoured the soft tyres for the first practice session Ferrari did most of their running on the harder medium compound. Their single soft-tyre run, carried out by Kimi Raikkonen, appeared to be a conservative effort and left him 1.8 seconds off Rosberg?s mark.
Lewis Hamilton ended the session half a second down on his team mate as lap times improved dramatically compared to the previous season. Favourable track conditions saw Rosberg lap over 5.5 seconds quicker than the fastest time seen in the same session last year, set by Raikkonen. It was also quicker than his team mates?s pole position time from last year.
The Red Bull pair completed the top five, over two seconds down on Mercedes on the same rubber, followed by Nico Hulkenberg. Alfonso Celis made his practice debut in the second Force India but ended up over two-and-a-half seconds slower than his team mate and with only Rio Haryanto?s Manor behind him. Celis visibly struggled with the VJM09 and went off at turn two early in the session.
Also making his debut in this session was McLaren?s Stoffel Vandoorne. Aside from a running wide briefly at one point he had an uneventful beginning to his first race weekend. Jenson Button was third halfway through the session before slipping down the order.
The Toro Rosso pair moved up to seventh and eighth at the end of the session. That pushed Romain Grosjean down to ninth, the Haas driver having lost a piece of bodywork from the side of his car earlier in the session. Esteban Gutierrez in the second VF-16 was 13th after experiencing a power loss after one of his first runs.
Kevin Magnussen appeared to have a similar problem in his Renault at the end of the session. The Renault driver was told to return to the pits slowly after the chequered flag fell.
First practice visual gaps
Nico Rosberg ? 1?32.294
+0.505 Lewis Hamilton ? 1?32.799
+1.834 Kimi Raikkonen ? 1?34.128
+2.167 Daniel Ricciardo ? 1?34.461
+2.247 Daniil Kvyat ? 1?34.541
+2.307 Nico Hulkenberg ? 1?34.601
+2.499 Carlos Sainz Jnr ? 1?34.793
+2.566 Max Verstappen ? 1?34.860
+2.706 Romain Grosjean ? 1?35.000
+2.712 Felipe Massa ? 1?35.006
+2.779 Sebastian Vettel ? 1?35.073
+2.880 Valtteri Bottas ? 1?35.174
+3.015 Esteban Gutierrez ? 1?35.309
+3.196 Kevin Magnussen ? 1?35.490
+3.434 Marcus Ericsson ? 1?35.728
+4.077 Pascal Wehrlein ? 1?36.371
+4.098 Stoffel Vandoorne ? 1?36.392
+4.425 Felipe Nasr ? 1?36.719
+4.645 Jolyon Palmer ? 1?36.939
+4.993 Alfonso Celis ? 1?37.287
+5.420 Rio Haryanto ? 1?37.714
Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.
2016 Bahrain Grand Prix
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2016 F1 practice sessions
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