Nico Rosberg was fastest in the first practice for this weekend Bahrain Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver was over half a second faster than his team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the afternoon session.
Both Mercedes had a very comfortable gap over the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen who was almost two second behind Rosberg. His team-mate was further down the order in eleventh place after staying on the medium tyres. Both Red Bull’s put in a strong performance to be fourth and fifth fastest with Daniel Ricciardo edging Daniil Kyvat out.
Force India had a good session with Nico Hulkenberg slightly behind Kyvat in sixth place. Both Toro Rosso were not far off either with Carlos Sainz just ahead of team-mate Max Verstappen.
Sebastian Vettel may have been able to have gone faster but he choose not to use the soft tyres in the session.
The circuit was over 10 degrees lower than normal and the wind helped keep it cool. Stoffel Vandoorne who has been brought in to replace Fernando Alonso was eighteenth .95 of a second slower than his team-mate Jenson Button.
Vandoorne’s time can’t be compared to his team-mate as the tyre he was using the medium is about a second slower than the soft on which Button was running when he set his fastest lap.
The reigning GP2 champion spent much of his first session focused on procedures such as pit stop ahead of his debut.
It was a bad afternoon session for both the Williams who struggled with the handling of their car which allowed Romain Grosjean to out paced them in the Haas by six thousandths of a second.
Vandoorne wasn’t the only driver debuting in practice as Mexican Alfonso Celis made his debut for Force India finishing five seconds off the pace in 21st place after a session which included a lurid slide across one of the track’s sandy gravel traps.