MCLAREN’S LEWIS HAMILTON has set the pace in first practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, edging the improving Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull.
The championship leader set the best time of one minute 33.572 seconds midway through the opening 90-minute session from world champion Vettel, who was three-tenths of a second adrift.
Force India’s Paul Di Resta surprised in third while the winner at last weekend’s Chinese GP, Nico Rosberg, was fourth fastest. McLaren’s Jenson Button was fifth, and he was followed by Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India and the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher.
Australian Mark Webber was down in eighth in his Red Bull, almost one second off the pace, while his compatriot and Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo was 20th. Lotus pairing Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean completed the top 10.
Ferrari duo Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa had a disappointing session, finishing 13th and 15th respectively.
Meanwhile, the Force India team said they were considering pulling out of the second practice session amid safety concerns.
The team was involved in an incident with protestors in the troubled Gulf State on Wednesday night when a Molotov cocktail exploded near a a car they had hired. Force India’s deputy principal Bob Fernley said the team would consider skipping the second session so they could return to their hotel before nightfall.