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Bahrain FP1: Daniel Ricciardo tops time sheets for new Formula 1 season

RB's Daniel Ricciardo kicked off the 2024 Formula 1 season in style, finishing fastest in the first free practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix on Thursday.

The Australian – driving for the newly rebranded RB team – saw off Lando Norris by just 0.032 seconds, with Oscar Piastri third in the other McLaren.

Max Verstappen, who complained about the handling of his Red Bull throughout the one-hour practice session, finished sixth, with George Russell seventh and Lewis Hamilton ninth for Mercedes.

Verstappen heads into the curtain raiser here in the Gulf kingdom as the favourite to claim a fourth consecutive world championship.

But the Dutch driver appeared unsettled in the opening running at a gusty Sakhir circuit.

"Everything is s***," he yelled over the radio. "Like miles off."

Ricciardo was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2022, but was handed a lifeline by Red Bull's junior team midway through last season.

And although times in testing have to be treated with caution as the teams trial varying fuel loads – indeed Ricciardo set his speediest lap on the softest tyre compound – RB could prove a surprise package. Ricciardo's team-mate Yuki Tsunoda finished fourth, three tenths back.

Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso took fifth spot and was the first of the drivers not to use the soft compound. Verstappen, Russell, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc – who finished eighth – and Hamilton also did not post a lap on the speediest rubber.

Hamilton finished four-tenths off Ricciardo, but the Mercedes camp are quietly optimistic that they could have the speed to perform at the sharp end.

At the other end of the grid, Alpine and Haas propped up the order with Nico Hulkenberg last of the 20 runners, five seconds off the pace.

The second practice session of the day takes place at 6pm local time (3pm GMT) and is more representative of the conditions the drivers will face in Friday's qualifying and Saturday's race.

FP1 results:

1    Daniel Ricciardo    AUS    Visa Cash App RB F1 Team    1m32.869s
2    Lando Norris    GBR    McLaren F1 Team    1m32.901s
3    Oscar Piastri    AUS    McLaren F1 Team    1m33.113s
4    Yuki Tsunoda    JPN    Visa Cash App RB F1 Team    1m33.183s
5    Fernando Alonso    ESP    Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team    1m33.193s
6    Max Verstappen    NED    Oracle Red Bull Racing    1m33.238s
7    George Russell    GBR    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team    1m33.251s
8    Charles Leclerc    MON    Scuderia Ferrari    1m33.268s
9    Lewis Hamilton    GBR    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team    1m33.302s
10    Valtteri Bottas    FIN    Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber    1m33.354s
11    Carlos Sainz    ESP    Scuderia Ferrari    1m33.385s
12    Sergio Perez    MEX    Oracle Red Bull Racing    1m33.413s
13    Alex Albon    THA    Williams Racing    1m33.583s
14    Lance Stroll    CAN    Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team    1m33.868s
15    Zhou Guanyu    CHN    Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber    1m33.923s
16    Logan Sargeant    USA    Williams Racing    1m34.213s
17    Esteban Ocon    FRA    BWT Alpine F1 Team    1m34.807s
18    Pierre Gasly    FRA    BWT Alpine F1 Team    1m35.144s
19    Kevin Magnussen    DEN    MoneyGram Haas F1 Team    1m37.477s
20    Nico Hulkenberg    GER    MoneyGram Haas F1 Team    1m37.938s

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