Ricciardo fastest in 1st Bahrain practice

Ricciardo fastest in 1st Bahrain practice

Raikkonen's time of 1 minute, 29.8 seconds on the 5.4-kilometer (3.3-mile) desert circuit was a fraction quicker than Vettel's.

"Yesterday our race pace didn't look bad in second practice but it wasn't as good as it was in FP1 or what it is now so it is encouraging to know that I believe our vehicle will be better than it was yesterday".

The Red Bull driver took over as fastest man with 15 minutes of the 90 remaining and stayed on top three-tenths of a second clear of Finns Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes and Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari.

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton had to settle for fifth.

"We changed a few things this evening and it didn't work as we expected, but the morning was better for us".

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In a boost for Ferrari, both Mercedes cars were more than half a second slower than the best lap set by Raikkonen.

"We were decent yesterday", Daniel Ricciardo said after qualifying fifth, which will become fourth with Hamilton's penalty.

"The vehicle feels OK, but we still need to find some pace, especially for a single lap", Bottas said.

Raikkonen was just under four-tenths of a second behind Ricciardo's fast lap, while his team-mate Sebastian Vettel was not too far behind in fourth.

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.

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It was another blow for Verstappen, who spun his vehicle early into the season-opening Australian GP two weeks ago.

The Dutch driver got out and helped stewards wheel the vehicle back to the team garage.

And Verstappen says the reason he was out on track was to try and solve a mapping issue that had been costing him time when trying to run in qualifying specification.

Aiding Hamilton and Verstappen's hopes of climbing through the field is the pace advantage over the midfield runners, with Toro Rosso and McLaren calculated as having the next best race performance. Practice and Qualifying are ok but Sunday is my favourite day of the week.

"I learned the data immediately once I arrived on the scene of this vehicle as for me it had been also a significant surprise", Verstappen informed reporters.

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Vettel won in Melbourne, profiting from an error by Mercedes to finish ahead of Hamilton, who was leading from pole.

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