Renault F1 Team’s Nico Hülkenberg produced the fifth overall fastest time on Friday in the opening day’s practice for the 2019 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.

Nico set a 1min 29.669secs on Pirelli’s Soft (C3) compound tyre in the second practice session under the lights of the Bahrain International Circuit. It rounded off a productive day for Nico who, in the first session, finished eighth fastest overall.

Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo finished eleventh in the afternoon and fifteenth in the evening as he continues to grow his understanding of the Renault R.S.19.

Alan Permane, Sporting Director – Technical programme notes
• Free Practice 1 proved hot, dusty and windy in places making running a challenge for all drivers.
• Nico completed 17 laps on Pirelli’s Soft (Red, C3) tyres. Daniel also ran on Soft tyres in FP1 and managed 19 laps.
• Free Practice 2, in the evening, was much more representative of qualifying and race conditions with a track temperature drop of 21°C from the earlier session.
• Nico began on Medium (Yellow, C2) tyres with Daniel on Hards (White, C1), before both again ran the Soft compound tyres.

What we learned today:
Conditions are tricky in Bahrain, but we’re well-placed heading into Saturday.

Nico Hülkenberg, #27, R.S.19-02
Free Practice 1: P8, 1:32.040, 17 laps
Free Practice 2: P5, 1:29.669, 32 laps

Nico: “Overall, it’s been a productive day’s work in Bahrain. It’s always a tricky place to arrive to for the second Grand Prix of the year with the heat and challenging climatic conditions with wind and dust. There was a distinct lack of grip in FP1 making it quite hard to drive and become comfortable in the car; we had to deal with a lot of oversteer. FP2 was under more representative conditions and I feel we’ve made a good start for both short and long run preparation. Fifth place on the leaderboard always looks nice, but we’re realistic and have our focus totally on qualifying tomorrow.”

Daniel Ricciardo, #3, R.S.19-03
Free Practice 1: P11, 1:32.401, 19 laps
Free Practice 2: P15, 1:30.848, 30 laps

Daniel: “I struggled this afternoon and we were off the pace from where we would like. We started on the Hard tyre, which was tricky for grip, but once we put the Soft on it felt slightly more comfortable. I know there are things we can improve on, especially with the balance of the car. We conducted a lot of work to understand more about the car in the garage this afternoon and then we did the long run, which was a little better. We aren’t as competitive as we should be and obviously I want to be quicker tomorrow, so we will do some homework tonight.”

Nick Chester, Chassis Technical Director: “The first session in Bahrain is usually tricky with hot and dusty track conditions. That said, we got our programmes done on both sides of the garage without any issues, so it was a sensible FP1 for us. FP2 was more about doing tyre comparisons with short runs on Softs, then long running on Soft and Medium tyres. The performance looked reasonably decent for Nico but for Daniel it was a bit more difficult because he ran the Hard tyre to start with and that compound had quite low grip. This made his following run on the Soft tyre difficult as there was a big grip change. Both drivers have highlighted areas to work on overnight for car balance and we will be aiming to improve through corner consistency for tomorrow. Having done the long runs on Medium and Softs it gives us useful degradation data to inform our strategy decisions for Sunday.”