Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time in free practice one for the Bahrain Grand Prix, leading a Ferrari one-two as the Mercedes cars languished near the bottom of the timesheets.
The times were hugely misleading, even by FP1 standards, with Mercedes opting to treat it as a test session so Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton ended down in 15th and 16th places respectively.
Raikkonen set his 1m37.827s with seven minutes remaining, two tenths ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.
Valtteri Bottas was third fastest for Williams, ahead of Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) and Max Verstappen in the second Toro Rosso.
Vettel had earlier set the fastest time 25 minutes into the session, but then reported a “sudden loss of power” and was told to slow down.
He toured back to the pits very slowly, getting out of the car on his return.
The problem recurred on his next run, although the team told him to stay out, and he went on to set the second-fastest time.
Low-grip track conditions
Following the recent sandstorm in Bahrain, and track conditions vastly different than those expected for qualifying and the race, most teams elected to treat this as more of a test session rather than a usual race-weekend data-gathering exercise.
Reigning champion Mercedes was a good indicator of this, as the team used its ‘free’ set of Pirelli tyres of the session very early in the opening 30 minutes, and did not run at all when the track was at its cleanest.
Hamilton and Rosberg went out on track together right from the start, with Rosberg suffering a degree of front locking on a very dusty circuit and high track temperatures of 52C.
Hamilton again complained of his “seat burning” during the middle part of the session. Mercedes was most likely using this session for hot-weather running data, following its defeat at the hands of Ferrari at Sepang.
More trouble at McLaren
Jenson Button spun to a halt his first flying lap at Turn 1 when his McLaren's Honda engine shut down due to an electrical issue, while Fernando Alonso required a pre-session technical fix to allow an engine pump shaft seal to be rectified.
"It was just an electrical issue, so the car shut down and it took us some time to understand it, and then it was too late to get back on track," said McLaren's Eric Boullier.
"We hope to be ready for P2."
Alonso briefly cheered the team when he went fastest in the session just after the halfway point. He slipped to seventh by the end, just 0.7s off the pace.
|04||C. Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:38.447||+0.620||14|
|05||D. Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:38.455||+0.628||17|
|06||M. Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:38.504||+0.677||22|
|09||D. Kvyat||Red Bull||1:38.661||+0.834||17|
|11||S. Perez||Force India||1:38.793||+0.966||15|
|13||N. Hulkenberg||Force India||1:39.187||+1.360||20|
|20||J. Button||McLaren||no time||2|