SAKHIR, Bahrain – Despite mechanical woes that led to both Ferraris stopping on track at some point during a pair of Bahrain Grand Prix practice sessions, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel swept both rounds of drills at the Bahrain Int’l Circuit on Friday.
Vettel led FP1 by four tenths of a second over Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, but his top lap of the day came in FP2, which started in the afternoon and ended at dusk under the floodlights.
The German posted a time of 1:31.310, but just before he got his long practice run underway, Vettel’s SF70H went into ‘complete shutdown’ and stopped on track. However, he was able to coast back to the pits for repairs and later continued on during the session, completing planned race-simulation runs.
Less than seven hundredths of a second separated the top three on the overall time sheets, as new Mercedes man Valtteri Bottas was just behind Vettel at 1:31.351 and Ricciardo was only a further .025 of a second behind Bottas.
Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth on a lap of 1:31.478, clocking 34 laps in the later session after only running six laps in FP1 before an overheating turbo brought his Ferrari to a halt.
Three-time champion Lewis Hamilton completed the top five, as he struggled to post a representative time on the supersoft Pirelli tires.
Hamilton was followed on the time sheets by Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, Williams’ Felipe Massa, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Haas’s Romain Grosjean and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat.
Kvyat’s team mate Carlos Sainz was one of several drivers to hit trouble in the twilight session, stopping his car in a plume of smoke in the early running. McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, who had his engine changed after a stoppage in FP1, also hit technical issues, completing just eight laps before retreating to the garage once more.
However, the most controversial moment came when Bottas’s Mercedes shed its T-wing, which was then collected at speed by Verstappen’s car. The Dutchman then spent some time in the garage as repairs were made to his car’s floor.
Qualifying for the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix kicks off at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, live on NBCSN.
Full practice results can be viewed on the next page…