KIMI ON TOP: Has Ferrari's unhappiness about his performance motivated Kimi Raikkonen to pull up his socks? He topped the timesheets during first practice for the 2015 Bahrain GP.Image: AFP/Patrik Stollarz
MANAMA, Bahrain - Kimi Raikkonen led a Ferrari one-two in first practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday while Formula 1 champions Mercedes lurked well down the timesheets after doing their own thing.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton was only 16th fastest while Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg was 15th, with Raikkonen and team mate Sebastian Vettel putting in their fastest laps late in the session.
With the action starting amid track temperatures of 53 degrees Celsius, far hotter than will be the case in qualifying and Sunday's twilight race, Mercedes opted for a different approach and longer runs.Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 F1 season – fresh reports every day.
The Mercedes team said on Twitter, before bringing both cars back to the garage nine minutes before the end: "Don't expect any stellar jumps up the order before end of session. Our tyres have 15 laps on them where others will be running fresh sets."
Raikkonen's quickest lap of 1min37.827 seconds came towards the end after temperatures had dropped to the mid-40s.
Finland's Valtteri Bottas was third fastest for Williams with Spanish rookie Carlos Sainz fourth in a Toro Rosso, ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.
McLaren's Fernando Alonso was seventh after briefly filling the top spot for a team struggling for performance at the start of their new Honda partnership. Team mate Jenson Button, however, failed to record a lap time after spinning and stopping on track in the opening minutes with what appeared to be an engine shutdown.
Mercedes is expected to dominate Sunday's race, with world champion Hamilton and Rosberg determined to win another duel in the desert after 2014's thriller and a recent spat between the pair in China.
Hamilton said on Thursday: "I think with these tyres and with Ferrari in the mix, I think we could see a real special race here.
"Last year I didn't qualify on pole here, I've never been on pole here so that's the challenge but as long as it doesn't get in the way of the challenge of trying to win the race."
Bahrain 2015 GP: 1st practice results
1 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1min37.827
2 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 1min38.029
3 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams-Mercedes 1min38.390
4 Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso 1min38.447
5 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) RedBull 1min38.455
6 Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Toro Rosso - Renault 1min38.504
7 Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 1min38.598
8 Felipe Nasr (Brazil) Sauber 1min38.628
9 Daniil Kvyat (Russia) RedBull 1min38.661
10 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 1min38.790
11 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 1min38.793
12 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus 1min38.842
13 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India 1min39.187
14 Jolyon Palmer (Britain) Lotus 1min39.283
15 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min39.293
16 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1min39.532
17 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber 1min39.534
18 Will Stevens (Britain) Marussia 1min42.973
19 Roberto Merhi (Spain) Marussia 1min44.265
20 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren