Hamilton quickest in opening Sakhir practice

Hamilton quickest in opening Sakhir practice

4 April 2014 – Lewis Hamilton set the pace during the first practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday afternoon. Fresh from victory in Malaysia, the Mercedes driver clocked a time of 1:37.502 to lead team-mate Nico Rosberg by 0.231 seconds, while Ferrari's Fernando Alonso completed the top three positions.

Although the Sakhir circuit, celebrating its 10th anniversary, will is staging a Formula 1 night race for the first time, opening practice took place in daylight, with the floodlights not being switched on until FP2.

Hamilton and Rosberg looked on course to claim the top two positions from the off, having comfortably topped the timesheets at the end of the opening 30 minutes, when Pirelli's extra set of Prime tyres were available.

Long spells in the Mercedes garage allowed Alonso and Nico Hülkenberg to move ahead in the closing stages, but the pair re-emerged to restore their one-two and send out a clear message to the rest of the field.

Alonso was the final man to break the 1m38s barrier, but he endured one of the most embarrassing moments of 2014 when Ferrari sent him out with one Soft and three Medium tyres, forcing the Spaniard to stop in the pits.

Hülkenberg delivered another impressive display in the Force India to finish fourth, well clear of the closely-matched pack of Jenson Button, Kimi Räikkönen, Kevin Magnussen, Daniil Kvyat and Sergio Pérez.

Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel experienced a quiet opening session, rounding out the top ten positions for Red Bull. New team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was just over a second adrift in 14th place.

Three reserve drivers made their first appearances of the season in the session. Williams reserve Felipe Nasr wound up 13th, two places behind regular driver Felipe Massa, Sauber's Giedo van der Garde finished 18th, three spots down on Adrian Sutil, while Robin Frijns beat Marcus Ericsson as Caterham brought up the rear.

Second practice at the Bahrain International Circuit gets underway at 6pm local time (GMT +3)

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