Pierre Gasly led the way in the first practice session at the Bahrain International Circuit, with the French driver beating both Ferraris to the front of the field.
At a warm but blustery Sakhir track, the first practice session of the 2022 Formula 1 season proved a straightforward affair as the majority of the teams concentrated on finding their feet in a competitive setting after the extensive pre-season testing programmes at the same circuit last week.
Gasly's fastest time was set with just over 10 minutes remaining in the hour, as he clocked a 1:34.193 on the Soft compound.
Behind him, the two Ferraris slotted into second and third – Charles Leclerc ahead of Carlos Sainz by half a tenth, despite the Monegasque spinning in the second sector. Using the Medium tyres, the two Ferraris were four-tenths away from Gasly's pace.
George Russell popped into fourth with 15 minutes remaining, as the Mercedes driver used the Soft compound to set a 1:34.629. At that moment, it was good enough for top spot, but Russell's time at the top proved short as he was then pipped by Gasly and the Ferraris.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who had led the way for most of the session with a 1:34.742 on the Mediums, wound up in fifth after electing against any late fast runs on the Softs.
Result Free practice 1 - Bahrain
|Results are being loaded...|
Ocon brings out the red flags
The session had only just started when the red flags were shown after 10 minutes.
This was due to Ocon's Alpine shedding part of its engine cover as the French driver powered along the pit straight. The debris shed all over the racing line, with the following Nico Hulkenberg driving straight over it.
The cars all recovered back to their garages while the red flags were shown to allow the marshals to recover the shattered carbon fibre.
Along with Ocon, who wound up in 12th at the chequered flag, there were issues for Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas. The Finn reported an engine misfire on his outlap at the start of the session, meaning an immediate return to the garage.
Despite lengthy repairs, with Bottas returning to the track in the final 10 minutes, another issue prevented him from setting a lap time.
Viewed by others:
Magnussen and Hulkenberg make their return
Kevin Magnussen, returning to F1 with Haas in place of the ousted Nikita Mazepin, finished as the slowest of those to set a time, with the Dane ending up three-tenths down on teammate Mick Schumacher.
Nico Hulkenberg, replacing Sebastian Vettel for this weekend as the four-time World Champion is at home isolating after testing positive for COVID-19, fared well for his first showing in the AMR22.
The super-sub, making his first Grand Prix appearance since the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix, wound up in 14th place. This was just 1.6 seconds away from the front-running pace, and a second off the time set by teammate Lance Stroll in sixth.
F1's only rookie in 2022, Guanyu Zhou, ended his first session in 11th position.
F1 Podcast: Previewing the 2022 Formula 1 season
Ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour and Thomas Maher preview the 2022 season.