Sebastian Vettel set quickest lap-time in both practice sessions for Bahrain Grand Prix. Four times world champion lapped 0.400 faster than Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in the Friday morning session and beats Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas by 0.041 under the evening floodlights.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen fourth after his afternoon session went up in smoke, with the Finn leaving his smoking car and trudging off in the desert heat.
“Walking through the desert in 37C heat. In full race suit. Helmet on. Only the Iceman is cool enough to do it,” the official formula1.com website observed on its Twitter feed.
Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton, who shares the overall lead with 43 points with Vettel, was a quarter-of-a-second off Vettel’s best time, was 10th and fifth respectively in the Friday practice.
Vettel was hit a trouble during the evening session, he appeared in significant trouble midway through the second session after reporting a problem with his Ferrari. But quickly the Italian marquee fixed the issue and Vettel joined to FP3, did not rear its head again.
Nico Hulkenberg was an impressive sixth for Renault, while his British team-mate Jolyon Palmer was 13th in the order. Felipe Massa and Max Verstappen made seven and fastest respectively, Romain Grosjean and Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top 10, which was covered by 1.4s.
Red Bull young sensation Max Verstappen was third and eighth fastest in the Friday practice.
Mercedes had been more focused on race-setup with heavier fuel loads in the searing afternoon heat, with Bottas only 14th in the morning session, but speeded up in more representative race conditions.
German driver Pascal Wehrlein, who missed the first two races with a back injury, returned with Sauber and was 18th and 19th in the two sessions.
McLaren’s Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne, who scored a point in Bahrain last year as a stand-in, stopped on track with engine problems 21 minutes from the end of the first session and was slowest in the second with only eight laps.