F1

Daniel Ricciardo the fastest driver in opening session of pre-season testing

After a three-month break from racing, Daniel Ricciardo’s back in action with a new team, and McLaren fans will be thrilled with the Aussie’s maiden day in orange.

Pre-season testing gives each of the Formula 1 teams an opportunity to test their cars in a competitive environment ahead of the season opener, scheduled for late March.

The drivers will trial their cars over a chaotic three-day schedule in Sakhir, and on the morning session of day one, Ricciardo recorded the fastest time around Bahrain International Circuit in windy conditions.

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After concentrating on aero work for a few laps, the Australian fired up the new Mercedes-powered McLaren to edge past his rivals and secure early bragging rights.

Daniel Ricciardo set the pace for our first morning session of pre-season testing in Bahrain 🇧🇭#F1#F1Testingpic.twitter.com/OVVGihp6XS

Out on track! 🙌 @danielricciardo#F1Testingpic.twitter.com/0LO5ds2XqE

Seeing the #MCL35M out there… 😍🧡#F1Testingpic.twitter.com/6kDiSk879s

After the session, Ricciardo was stoked with his first hit out in the new car.

“I feel like I just jumped out and all I can really think about is some lunch,” he said.

“It was really good. It was a nice half a day. Everything went pretty smooth. It’s nice to see your name up at the top but really testing day one is about reliability and making sure everything runs.

“It was nice to get back into it. All good and happy.”

Meanwhile, powerhouse team Mercedes experienced gearbox malfunctions early in the morning, while Max Verstappen’s Red Bull was the first car of the season to go for a spin.

“It’s surprising, and I’m sure no one is more surprised than they are,” commentator Martin Brundle said of Mercedes’ early problems on Sky Sports.

“With the gearbox dynos they’ve got, with the full car dynos, you’d think those gremlins would have been shaken out the system by the time we got here.

“Losing half a day within a three-day test … it’s very significant if you start losing time.”

F1 fans also got their first glimpse of Haas recruit Mick Schumacher, son of the legendary German driver Michael.

Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Lando Norris of Great Britain.Source:Getty Images

The morning session was brought to an early halt when Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari misfired at turn four, prompting a red flag.

Earlier, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel caused a yellow flag by coming to a halt at the end of the pitlane during the second hour.

In total, Ricciardo completed 45 laps with a fastest time of 1:32:203 on hard C2 tyres — English teammate Lando Norris will get a chance to test the car in the afternoon session.

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