Cut To The Race Podcast

Surprise Name Sets Fastest Time in First F1 Session of 2022

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Pierre Gasly topped the first Formula 1 practice session of 2022, finishing 0.364 seconds clear of the field in Bahrain.

There are, of course, the usual caveats of a Practice 1 session, and it was Red Bull who produced a potentially ominous first showing.

Neither Max Verstappen nor Sergio Pérez produced a representative time on the soft tyre, and the Dutchman was just half a second off the pace in a lap time set on the medium tyre early on.

After an early red flag just eight minutes into the session, caused by Esteban Ocon’s Alpine shedding its bright pink sidepod on the main straight, Verstappen emerged and immediately jumped to the top of the timesheets with a 1:34.742.

With a little over a quarter of an hour remaining in the session, George Russell bolted on a set of the soft tyres and lowered the best time, but only by just over a tenth of a second.

The Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, both then went quicker on the medium tyre, before Gasly set a new benchmark with a 1:34.193.

That time would remain on top to the end of the session, despite other teams – including world champions Mercedes – having also fitted the soft tyre late on.

The Silver Arrows still appeared to be struggling with the ‘porpoising’ – when the car bounces at high speed on the straights – that blighted their pre-season test.

Lewis Hamilton, sporting a new ‘day-glo’ yellow helmet for this season as he returns to his original colour, could only set a time three quarters of a second off Gasly’s best and ended the session seventh, whilst Russell’s best saw him finish fourth.

Image credit: Getty Images.

Verstappen’s earlier time was good enough for fifth at the chequered flag, ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll in sixth.

Fernando Alonso, Gasly’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda and Pérez completed the top 10.

The McLarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo – getting his first experience of the new car for the first time after missing the pre-season test with COVID-19 – were down in 16th and 17th, but there is a good chance that the British team were largely focused on the brake temperature issues that they struggled with during testing.

Sebastian Vettel tested positive for the virus yesterday, meaning F1’s resident super-sub Nico Hülkenberg was once again called on to fill in, and the German finished the session in 14th, almost exactly a second behind teammate Stroll.

Valtteri Bottas was the only driver unable to set a time after a series of mechanical issues.

Headline image credit: F1.

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