Scuderia AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly set the pace in first practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, beating the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Reigning world champion Max Verstappen ended up fifth fastest.
The session soon provided a surprise as debris from an Alpine required a stoppage. Alpine had brought a new prototype sidepod design to mimick some of Ferrari's unique sidepod design traits, but on his first pass on the main straight, Ocon's right hand sidepod tore to pieces, requiring him to complete his lap with the radiators visible to everyone. It was an early end to the new sidepod design this weekend as Alpine had one one such package.
Alonso, who at the time of the early red flag was the only man not to have gone out on track was therefore not impacted and swiftly ventured out when debris was cleared and the session got restarted.
Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas was also quickly sidelined after reporting a lot of misfiring on his installation lap. The Finn would end the 90-minute session with just two laps completed, making for a dismal start at his new team.
Many looked forward to seeing the true pace of Mercedes, trying to work out if they had been sandbagging their way through Bahrain's pre-season test. But, as some suspected, the Mercedes team appeared to struggle genuinely with their porpoising issue on the main straight, even resulting in a broken front wing for George Russell.
Things were more straightforward at Ferrari. Despite a spin for Leclerc, both Ferraris were consistently among the fastest cars out there. In fact, Pierre Gasly was the only man able to be faster than Leclerc and Sainz.
Russell made it to fourth eventually, edging Verstappen who said after the session he was "very very pleased" with the start of the weekend.
Lance Stroll was the fastest man for Aston Martin as Nico Hulkenberg was busy trying to learn the AMR22, having been called up to replace the COVID-19 infected Sebastian Vettel just days ago.
Lewis Hamilton was 7th fastest, ahead of Alonso in the fastest Alpine. Tsunoda and Perez completed the top ten with rookie Zhou Guanyu just missing out by 0.003s.
|1||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:34.193||23|
|5||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:34.742||+0.549s||22|
|6||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:34.814||+0.621s||22|
|8||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:35.000||+0.807s||14|
|9||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:35.028||+0.835s||20|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:35.050||+0.857s||23|
|11||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:35.053||+0.860s||20|
|12||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:35.151||+0.958s||15|
|13||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:35.644||+1.451s||15|
|14||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:35.815||+1.622s||23|
|15||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:35.923||+1.730s||17|
|16||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:36.304||+2.111s||22|
|17||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:36.402||+2.209s||20|
|18||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:36.536||+2.343s||23|
|19||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:36.804||+2.611s||21|
|20||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||2|