Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing was the fastest man of the weekend’s first Formula 1 practice session on Friday at BIC in Sakhir, as the Formula 1 2018 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix got underway in thrilling fashion.

The Australian set a best lap of 1 minute 31.060 around BIC’s 5.412-kilometre Grand Prix track under hot and humid conditions.

Ricciardo clocked his fastest time while completing 14 laps of work in the hour-and-a-half session.

He was 0.304 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who was in second place for World champions Mercedes, while fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen was classified third 0398s behind.

Less than four-tenths of a second separated the leading trio, illustrating the high level of competition between the top three teams in the top flight.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fourth in the practice with a best lap just 0.410s off of Ricciardo’s pace. Drivers’ World champion Lewis Hamilton was fifth 1.212s back in his Mercedes, while Romain Grosjean of Haas came sixth 1.456s behind.

Rounding out the top 10 were Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso, Carlos Sainz of Renault, Kevin Magnussen of Haas and Nico Hulkenberg of Renault.

The second Formula 1 practice was scheduled for 6pm on Friday, while the third will be on Saturday at 3pm.

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