Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz took to the Bahrain International Circuit for the first day of the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix with a trouble-free brace of sessions to see Nico the seventh fastest driver at the end of the day.

Nico posted a 1min 31.220secs lap whilst Carlos was four tenths adrift of that time with his quickest lap of the 5.4km track.

Alan Permane, Sporting Director - Technical programme notes
• In FP1, Nico first ran with aero rakes conducting data logging, then conducted Halo fairing comparisons and general set-up work using Pirelli’s Soft (yellow) and Supersoft (red) tyres.
• Carlos also started with aero rakes, using first Medium (white) then the Supersoft tyres.
• In FP2, both drivers conducted tyre evaluations and further set-up work, with Carlos using the Soft and Supersoft whilst Nico sampled the Medium and Supersoft.

What we learned today:
• The Renault R.S.18 was reliable with pace to come.

Nico Hülkenberg, #27, R.S.18-02
Free practice 1: P10, 1:33.104, 18 laps
Free practice 2: P7, 1:31.220, 34 laps

Nico: “A pretty routine Friday, where we made progress through the day, and hopefully learnt sufficient for us to find further pace overnight to take into tomorrow. I’m reasonably happy with the car but there’s definitely potential for improvement and that’s what we’re targeting.”

Carlos Sainz, #55, R.S.18-01
Free practice 1: P8, 1:32.885, 21 laps
Free practice 2: P12, 1:31.601, 34 laps

Carlos: “Quite a challenging Friday, as always in Bahrain, as we worked on our understanding of the car in both the sessions. We did gain a lot of grip over the day and it was tricky to handle the rear of the car with the right balance for all the different corner speeds, but overall I think we have a good starting point for the weekend.”

Nick Chester, Technical Director, Chassis: “We ran pretty well to programme today and completed positive aero comparisons with our updates including a new Halo fairing in FP1. In FP2 we completed the usual tyre comparisons. We will now analyse our data to identify where we can improve for FP3 and qualifying.”