Bahrain GP: Ricciardo leads opening practice for RB!

© XPB 

Daniel Ricciardo has gone out of his way to play down RB’s form, but the Aussie nevertheless topped the opening practice session of 2024 in Bahrain at the wheel of the rebranded outfit's VCARB 01.

The Aussie led the field by a margin of 0.032s from McLaren’s Lando Norris, with Oscar Piastri completing the top three.

In fourth position, confirming RB’s solid pace, Yuki Tsunoda was 0.314s adrift from his teammate, while Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen completed the top six.



With not a single driver change among the teams from last November’s season finale in Abu Dhabi – a first in the history of Formula 1 – a familiar field of competitors to the track at Sakhir for the first practice session of 2024.

Air temp stood at 19.5C, with track temp at 35.9C, but high gusty winds were the biggest concern ahead of a session marked as the least representative 60 minutes of the weekend.

Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas was the first driver to kick into action, but the Finn was quickly followed by half the field.

Rotations were unsurprisingly fast and furious at the top of the timesheet as everyone came to grips with track conditions and lap times fell, with Pirelli’s medium compound the tyre of choice.

Among the commotion, Verstappen became the first driver to drop below 94 seconds although the Red Bull charger sounded anything but happy with the behaviour of his RB20.

Twenty minutes in, Russell briefly went top before Verstappen responded with a 1m33.535s. Behind the top two followed Perez, Hamilton and Alonso.

In the McLaren camp, as the session hit the halfway mark, a run on the soft rubber was in order for both Piastri and Norris. The Aussie predictably went top with a 1m33.113s but was quickly outdone by his teammate who went 0.212s faster.

RB’s Yuki Tsunoda also opted to sample a set of softs, the Japanese driver’s efforts taking him up to third, 0.282s behind Norris. Ricciardo followed suit and confirmed RB’s early form, popping to the top with a 1m32.869s.

Meanwhile, both Ferrari drivers were among the top ten but like their fellow heavy hitters, neither appeared inclined to fit the soft rubber.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, there was little change at the front as the focus seemingly shifted to high fuel and long runs.

The checkered flag thus fell with a job well done for RB and McLaren with Ricciardo leading the field from Norris, Piastri and Tsunoda.

Aston Martin’s Alonso was fifth, followed by Verstappen, Russell, Leclerc, Hamilton and Bottas who rounded off the top ten.

Next in line were Sainz, Perez, Albon, Stroll and Zhou who capped off the top 15. As predicted, both Alpines were among the lower tier runners along with Sargeant and both Haas drivers, with Nico Hulkenberg leading the lap count with 27 laps.

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter