Rosberg leads Mercedes one-two as Ferrari hold back

2016 Bahrain Grand Prix first practice

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Nico Rosberg led a Mercedes one-two in the first practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix but rivals Ferrari appeared to be concealing their pace.

While the Mercedes pair favoured the soft tyres for the first practice session Ferrari did most of their running on the harder medium compound. Their single soft-tyre run, carried out by Kimi Raikkonen, appeared to be a conservative effort and left him 1.8 seconds off Rosberg’s mark.

Lewis Hamilton ended the session half a second down on his team mate as lap times improved dramatically compared to the previous season. Favourable track conditions saw Rosberg lap over 5.5 seconds quicker than the fastest time seen in the same session last year, set by Raikkonen. It was also quicker than his team mates’s pole position time from last year.

The Red Bull pair completed the top five, over two seconds down on Mercedes on the same rubber, followed by Nico Hulkenberg. Alfonso Celis made his practice debut in the second Force India but ended up over two-and-a-half seconds slower than his team mate and with only Rio Haryanto’s Manor behind him. Celis visibly struggled with the VJM09 and went off at turn two early in the session.

Also making his debut in this session was McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne. Aside from a running wide briefly at one point he had an uneventful beginning to his first race weekend. Jenson Button was third halfway through the session before slipping down the order.

The Toro Rosso pair moved up to seventh and eighth at the end of the session. That pushed Romain Grosjean down to ninth, the Haas driver having lost a piece of bodywork from the side of his car earlier in the session. Esteban Gutierrez in the second VF-16 was 13th after experiencing a power loss after one of his first runs.

Kevin Magnussen appeared to have a similar problem in his Renault at the end of the session. The Renault driver was told to return to the pits slowly after the chequered flag fell.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
16Nico RosbergMercedes1’32.29424
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’32.7990.50524
37Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’34.1281.83416
43Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’34.4612.16727
526Daniil KvyatRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’34.5412.24730
627Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’34.6012.30728
755Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Ferrari1’34.7932.49921
833Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Ferrari1’34.8602.56619
98Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’35.0002.70618
1019Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’35.0062.71219
115Sebastian VettelFerrari1’35.0732.77914
1277Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’35.1742.88021
1321Esteban GutierrezHaas-Ferrari1’35.3093.01519
1422Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’35.4403.14628
1520Kevin MagnussenRenault1’35.4903.19627
169Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’35.7283.43430
1794Pascal WehrleinManor-Mercedes1’36.3714.07726
1847Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren-Honda1’36.3924.09825
1912Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’36.7194.42524
2030Jolyon PalmerRenault1’36.9394.64528
2134Alfonso CelisForce India-Mercedes1’37.2874.99323
2288Rio HaryantoManor-Mercedes1’37.7145.42027

First practice visual gaps

Nico Rosberg – 1’32.294

+0.505 Lewis Hamilton – 1’32.799

+1.834 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’34.128

+2.167 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’34.461

+2.247 Daniil Kvyat – 1’34.541

+2.307 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’34.601

+2.499 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’34.793

+2.566 Max Verstappen – 1’34.860

+2.706 Romain Grosjean – 1’35.000

+2.712 Felipe Massa – 1’35.006

+2.779 Sebastian Vettel – 1’35.073

+2.880 Valtteri Bottas – 1’35.174

+3.015 Esteban Gutierrez – 1’35.309

+3.146 Jenson Button – 1’35.440

+3.196 Kevin Magnussen – 1’35.490

+3.434 Marcus Ericsson – 1’35.728

+4.077 Pascal Wehrlein – 1’36.371

+4.098 Stoffel Vandoorne – 1’36.392

+4.425 Felipe Nasr – 1’36.719

+4.645 Jolyon Palmer – 1’36.939

+4.993 Alfonso Celis – 1’37.287

+5.420 Rio Haryanto – 1’37.714

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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32 comments on “Rosberg leads Mercedes one-two as Ferrari hold back”

  1. The ‘Visual Gap’ graphic is a superb tool, it shows the relative performance at a glance. Was it developed by F1 Fanatic people or imported from elsewhere @keithcollantine?

    1. Indeed, awesome tool, tells a thousand words…

    2. How about overlaid over a graphic of the start/finish straight so you get a visual idea of the actual distance as well?

      1. That’d be great aswell!

      2. There was such a graphic for Canada 2014 qualifying, because the gap between 4 cars was half a car length.

  2. I really like to believe Ferrari will challenge Mercedes but unless they get ahead at the start like in Melbourne I don’t see it happening. Rosberg did not have much trouble to follow Vettel in Albert Park whilst he was in the mediums and Vettel on the super softs.

    1. Vettel on used super softs… That he would have to preserve for quite some time.

      What Ferrari did in Australia wasn’t so much a display of their lack of speed, but a stunning display of bad decision making :)

      1. @mattds, @evered7 They weren’t that used in the first five laps. In that period Vettel only managed to get a gap of 3 seconds whilst the tyre was said to be plenty faster over the medium. As I said before had they put on the medium he probably won the race. I agree the levels of performance aren’t super clear yet but I don’t think I’m super pessimistic in saying what I wrote above.

        1. @xtwl

          you probably know as well as anyone here that there is no set gap between tire compounds. It’s all track and weather conditions combined. We do know from winter testing that Merc and Ferrari were running similar times on their medium tires.

          In Melbourne, it may have been better for Ferrari at least to go with a new set of soft tires, rather continue with a used set of super softs (it’s not like they put on new super softs for Vettel during the red flag). You can also look at how quickly the SS went off for STR. It was falling apart really quickly at the restart. There’s a reason Pirelli typically selects Softs/Medium as the race tire for the Australian GP.

          1. Merc were always better than Ferrari on Mediums so I don’t either see your comment accurate. Merc were always better on Mediums and Ferrari were better on Super Softs. I guess this will remain a fact and Ferrari won’t have a chance to win this race unless the Merc guys will have a reliability issue or an/some incidents.

    2. Ferrari also showed how quickly they can reel in the Mercs on new softs. The Mercs themselves had trouble passing the STR and hence it is not a surprise Vettel over ran while trying to attack Hamilton.

      Nothing is clear cut yet. FP2 might show more information. Race is where we will see the extent of gap between the top 2.

      1. “Ferrari also showed how quickly they can reel in the Mercs on new softs.”

        The only problem is, Ferrari have gone heavy on the mediums for their tyre allocation, while Mercedes have more of the softs!

        Still trying to figure out what Ferrari’s thinking is, unless they believe that the medium will be the better race tyre, maybe working better in the lower nighttime temps. I guess we’ll know more after the long runs in FP2.

        1. @tdog It was all guesswork. They tyres were selected before pre-season testing.

  3. Can someone please explain to me why a teenager with this record
    is given a seat in a Formula One car, even just for FP1?

    If I’m reading correctly this guy won a handful of Formula Ford club races in Mexico when he was 15 years old, and has not won a race since then.

    When he was 16 years old “he decided to move to Europe” to race in Formula BMW and Formula 3. Translation: his family is spending a fortune to advance junior’s racing “career”. I guess this answers my original question

    1. Socratic maieutic applied to oneself…

    2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      1st April 2016, 14:36

      Plenty of pesos…

    3. Big. Pile. Of. Money.

      1. Ah the old BPOM.

  4. Hard to judge… But seems like Mercedes improved amazingly from last year… P1 and already faster than last year Q3.. Seems ti me like they are about 2+s faster… Amazing.

    Vandoorne 1s behind Button, I was hoping for more… But with quali format as it is… We can only judge once the race is over.

    Other Rookie amazingly slow… 3s off teammate… Also popular Rio Huryupanto not that fast well behind Pascal.

    Pretty much this years Manor is 5 s faster than last year.. Yet still 4s offpace… Geez.

    1. Vandoorne did his time on mediums as per Autosport. @jureo

    2. It’s Vandoorne’s very first session in that car. Can’t exactly expect him to match or be very close to Button already, especially when his FP1 focus would have been to get used to and comfortable in the car.

    3. Vandoorne spent the entire night on 3 flights and arrived in Bahrain about 5 hours before FP1.
      Add to this that it’s his first GP and his first real outing in a 2016 car (I think) and I think it be safe to assume that McLaren didn’t want him to push for laptime in this session.

    4. @jureo It cannot really be compared. Vandoorne runs a brand new car and engine, with the whole setup to do while Button adapts its settings based on his run last year.

    5. I know guys, but after all the hype I wanted to see some magic…

      1. @jureo In a FP-session? What magic would that be?

        1. Like being faster than Button in same conditions. That would be magic for me…

    6. it was good to see Alonso after FP working with SVd.

  5. Times are certainly going to be a lot lower than what we saw in recent years! But we really did not get much of an indication of how tight it will be in the top 8.

  6. Rosberg already ahead of the pole time from last year in FP1 :).

    2017 aero reg’s? Pah! We just need some proper performance racing tyres.

    1. Lol I am sure given rule stability and improved tires would yield exact laptime 2017 rules were promised to bring.

      We will see how rules shape out by end of the month.

  7. ColdFly F1 (@)
    1st April 2016, 14:30

    The most telling part for me is that there are four back-markers (more end of mid-field than back-markers like we had in the past), and Haas-Ferrari is NOT one of them.
    I know GroHaas is ‘only’ 0.4sec ahead of McLaren; but still quite impressive.

  8. Seems to me that Gutierrez will stay on as a Ferrari third driver for at least the first half of the season, they are still tweaking their engine.

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