Ferrari’s Leclerc and Vettel 1-2 in 1st Bahrain GP Practice

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco steers his car during the first free practice at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, March 29, 2019. The Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) — Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel posted the best times in the first practice at Formula One’s Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday.

Leclerc finished the stint about 0.3 seconds clear of four-time F1 champion Vettel on the desert circuit.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco waits in the pit during the first free practice at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, March 29, 2019. The Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Leclerc, who is in his first season with Ferrari, placed nearly one second ahead of Valtteri Bottas. The Mercedes driver was third, followed by teammate Lewis Hamilton. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was fifth, followed by teammate Pierre Gasly.

Bottas won the season-opening Australian GP ahead of Hamilton two weeks ago.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany smiles in the pit during the first free practice at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, March 29, 2019. The Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Afternoon track temperatures were well over 40 degrees Celsius (104 F) and not reflective of Sunday’s race, which starts at 6 p.m. local time in cooler conditions. Therefore, drivers did not push their cars to avoid damage from overheating.

Friday’s second practice starts at 6 p.m. and mirrors race conditions.

By: Jerome Pugmire, AP Sports Writer

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