After the disappointment of Melbourne, the Ferrari Formula 1 team bounced back during FP1 for the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Charles Leclerc leading a Ferrari 1-2, with the Mercedes Formula 1 team nearly a second adrift of the scarlet red.
Charles Leclerc’s fastest lap was a 1.30.354, which set the Monegasque driver 0.263s clear of his Ferrari Formula 1 team-mate Sebastian Vettel. However, the bigger story was the Maranello outfit’s advantage over its competitors; Bottas, who was the quickest Mercedes for the opening session, was 0.974s off the fastest time of the session, while regaining world champion Lewis Hamilton was struggling, and was nearly 0.3s off the latest championship leader Bottas.
Trackside analysis, very similar to the Barcelona test and the opening race in Melbourne, the Ferrari looked visually very planted to the race-track. Meanwhile, on contrast, the Mercedes looked very lively over the course of the life. In Melbourne, the suspicions are building that Ferrari had to turn their power unit right down, however there is understanding (and with the initial analysis of FP1) that Ferrari have resolved that issue for Bahrain, which could make it a competitive duel in the desert come race day.
After a successful Red Bull-Honda debut for Verstappen, the Dutchman stayed ahead by a small margin against team-mate Gasly, who is tipped for a good recovery here in Bahrain after a disappointing Q1 elimination last time out in Australia. The Verstappen/Gasly will be an interesting battle to watch out for over the course of the weekend here in Bahrain, especially after Gasly’s strong performance last year in Bahrain – bringing the Toro Rosso home in fourth place.
Despite suggestions that Haas have a 0.5s advantage over any other midfield team, the McLaren team showed their hand with Carlos Sainz, who was just 1.5s off the fastest lap, and led the ‘best of the rest’ trio after the top three teams, which was encouraging signs for McLaren-Renault.