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Daniel Ricciardo makes PERFECT start to new Formula One season at Bahrain Grand Prix… leading to furious Max Verstappen foul-mouthed rant

  • Daniel Ricciardo finished best after the first training session in Bahrain
  • The Australian showed surprising pace on Friday
  • Max Verstappen was frustrated after the first run

Daniel Ricciardo was the surprising name at the top of the timesheet during the first practice session of the new Formula 1 season in Bahrain.

The Australian, driving for the new RB team, beat Lando Norris by just 0.032 seconds, while Oscar Piastri finished third in the other McLaren.

Max Verstappen, who complained about the handling of his Red Bull throughout the one-hour practice session, finished sixth, George Russell seventh and Lewis Hamilton ninth for Mercedes.

Verstappen goes up the curtain here in the Gulf Kingdom as favorite to claim a world championship for the fourth time in a row.

But the Dutch driver appeared unsettled during the opening race on a windy Sakhir circuit.

Daniel Ricciardo finished best in training in Bahrain ahead of the first Grand Prix

The Australian showed fantastic pace in the early runs on Friday

The Australian showed fantastic pace in the early runs on Friday

“Everything is damned,” he shouted over the radio. “Like it’s miles away.”

Ricciardo was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2022, but was given a lifeline from Red Bull’s junior team midway through last season.

And while testing should be approached with caution as teams trial varying fuel loads (Ricciardo did indeed set his fastest lap on the softest tire compound), RB could prove a surprise package. Ricciardo’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda finished fourth, three tenths back.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso took fifth place and was the first of the drivers not to use the soft compound. Verstappen, Russell, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc – who finished eighth – and Hamilton also failed to set a lap on the fastest rubber.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen looked frustrated on the first day

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen looked frustrated on the first day

Hamilton finished four-tenths behind Ricciardo, but the Mercedes camp are quietly optimistic they can have the pace to deliver at the sharp end.

At the other end of the grid, Alpine and Haas held the order, while Nico Hülkenberg was the last of the twenty runners, five seconds behind.

The second practice session of the day takes place at 6pm local time (3pm GMT) and is more representative of the conditions the drivers will face during Friday’s qualifying and Saturday’s race.