Esteban Ocon was hot when it came to his lap times in Bahrain but it was Nicholas Latifi’s Williams that was on fire – literally.
Formula 1 was back on track at the Sakhir circuit on Friday, the drivers having to contend with even hotter weather with the temperature up to 33’C.
That meant rather than getting on top of the Turn 10 lock ups, they added Turn 1 to the mix – again, and again.
But it was Latifi’s fire drama that caused the first of three red flag of the morning’s session.
The Williams driver was having a good day out on track before a rear brake fire had him spinning off at Turn 12.
Both he and a marshal grabbed fire extinguishers but they weren’t fast enough to prevent his rear right from exploding from the heat.
— Kemysz (@Szymon13469401) March 11, 2022
Williams reported: “From initial investigations, it appears that the issue that caused the fire was quite minor, but became visibly quite dramatic.
“It is not as severe as the video footage might suggest, but there is fire damage to the rear of the car that the team need to repair.”
The session was red flagged for 32 minutes as Latifi’s car was returned to the pits on a flatbed truck while the marshals cleaned the track.
As for the second red, that was part of an FIA systems test and was not the result of something going wrong.
The third red belonged to Valtteri Bottas. The session resumed with seven minutes on the clock, the drivers ventured out for practice sessions and Bottas stopped, reason unknown.
As with Thursday morning it was Charles Leclerc who led the way after the opening hour before he was overtaken by Ocon in the second hour.
The Alpine driver, his car sporting the team’s alternate pink livery, posted a 1:34.276 on the C4 tyres to edge Leclerc by less than a tenth of a second, the Ferrari driver setting his best time on the C3 Pirellis.
Max Verstappen, in the car in place of Sergio Perez for day two, was third quickest on the C2 tyres although once again there was no sign of the significant upgrade that Red Bull were expected to bring to this test.
Sebastian Vettel was P4 ahead of Lando Norris, both drivers having problems out on track.
Vettel was a bit late out, reportedly due to a seat issue, and then he also went for an early shower.
50 minutes before the lunch break he left the pits for another run only to pull over into the access road on the inside of the Turn 1 hairpin, seemingly aware as soon as he accelerated that there was an issue.
Seb giving instructions pic.twitter.com/IXvFcaVRQe
— tami. (@Vetteleclerc) March 11, 2022
Aston Martin focused on the right-rear corner when the car eventually made it back to the pits, some reports suggesting the tyre had not been attached properly. Vettel was back out on track for a few laps before the lunch break.
As for Norris, well McLaren had a difficult start and so it continued throughout the morning.
The team’s day began with a bit of bad news as Daniel Ricciardo had not recovered from his illness meaning the Briton had the car all to himself for the second day in a row.
He did three early laps and then returned to the garage as McLaren once again suffered problems with their brake cooling system.
That was the beginning of his stop-start morning, every trip out of the pits followed by one back in. The team seemed to have better luck as the morning progressed, Norris bringing his tally up to 29 laps.
Yuki Tsunoda was P6 ahead of Bottas, another driver who only managed minimal laps with 25 on the board, and Mick Schumacher.
The Haas driver was in action for the first time this week, covering 23 laps but that’s as far as it went, Haas announcing their morning was ending early due to an exhaust issue. Schumacher will had the car over to his new team-mate Kevin Magnussen for the afternoon session.
George Russell and Latifi completed the timesheets. Russell, though, was the busiest driver of all with 67 laps.
1 Ocon – Alpine – 1m34.276s, C4 – 59 laps
2 Leclerc – Ferrari – 1m34.366s – C3 – 54 laps
3 Verstappen – Red Bull – 1m35.874s – C2 – 45 laps
4 Vettel – Aston Martin – 1m36.020s – C3 – 44 laps
5 Norris – McLaren – 1m36.354s – C2 proto – 29 laps
6 Tsunoda – AlphaTauri – 1m36.802s – C3 – 44 laps
7 Bottas – Alfa Romeo – 1m36.987s – C2 – 25 laps
8 Schumacher – Haas – 1m37.846s – C2 – 23 laps
9 Russell – Mercedes – 1m38.585s – C2 proto – 67 laps
10 Latifi – Williams – 1m39.845s – C2 proto – 12 laps
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