MANAMA (Reuters) – Australian Daniel Ricciardo put Red Bull at the top of the timesheets at the end of Friday’s opening practice session for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix.
The 28-year-old lapped the 5.4km Sakhir circuit with a best time of one minute 31.060 seconds that put him 0.304 seconds clear of last year’s Mercedes pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was third 0.398 seconds off Ricciardo’s pace.
Title rivals and four times champions Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton were only fourth and fifth, respectively for Ferrari and Mercedes.
Vettel snatched an opportunistic win from Hamilton in the season-opening race in Australia two weeks ago to take the early championship lead.
The Briton goes into this weekend’s race determined to make up for the one that got away and in the process equal Raikkonen’s all-time record of 27 consecutive finishes in the points.
His time in the Friday afternoon session was not representative of his actual pace, however, as Hamilton locked up in his Mercedes while on his fastest lap before then reporting his tyres were “dead.”
Haas were again the best of the rest with Frenchman Romain Grosjean sixth fastest.
The American-owned team showed a surprising turn of speed in Melbourne but had to stomach the disappointment of seeing both their cars retire while on course for a best-ever result.
Pierre Gasly went seventh quickest in his Honda-powered Toro Rosso, ahead of Renault’s Carlos Sainz and the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen.
Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10 for Renault.
Dutch driver Max Verstappen made it one Red Bull at the bottom and one at the top of the timesheets after failing to set a time.
The 20-year-old stopped due to an electrical issue just minutes into the session before climbing out and pushing his car back into the pits.
Editing by Alan Baldwin and Toby Davis