Kimi Raikkonen showed Friday night at the Bahrain International Circuit that his third-place finish in Australia was not a fluke. The Finn, in his 16th season of F1, clocked the best time with a 1:29:817. His Ferrari teammate, Sebastian Vettel, placed second, while Valtteri Bottas took third, five tenths behind his countryman.
Despite the success of the best time, Raikkonen’s second practice session was interrupted early when a loose wheel nut from a practice pit stop lost his chance for a long run. Because of an unfair release pit stop, Raikkonen and his team could be fined, or even issued a three-place demotion from the grid wherever Raikkonen finishes in qualifying on Saturday. So far though, there has not been a decision yet as the investigations continued after the session.
Lewis Hamilton finished fourth in the session but will have to take a three-position penalty after his Mercedes team found an issue with his gearbox. Fifth and sixth were Red Bulls Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, respectively, who were both nine tenths behind Raikkonen. Verstappen improved though, as his car was hit with an electrical issue in the daytime morning session, which resulted in the track marshals pushing the car back to the pits. Ricciardo on the other hand, was more successful, as the Australian set the best time of the 1st session, with a 1:31:060.
Seventh in the evening session was the lonely Renault of Nico Hulkenberg, with a surprise showing by Frenchman Pierre Gasly in the Honda-powered Toro Rosso in Eighth. McLaren placed Fernando Alonso in ninth, with his teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne, in tenth. Both American Haas F1 cars of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen came back to reality after the opening round by finishing in 11th and 15th, respectively. Where these midfielders qualify is anybody’s guess, but it will provide good entertainment and close racing just like the top three teams.
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