Lewis Hamilton topped the opening free practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend on Friday, with Valtteri Bottas making it a one-two for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
Hamilton, who clinched his record-equalling seventh World Championship with victory last time out in the Turkish Grand Prix, went quickest with a time of 1:29.033, 0.449 seconds clear of his team-mate.
Drivers up and down the field were able to utilise the 2021 C3 compound of Pirelli tyre during the session, and Hamilton was amongst the fastest on that tyre before he set his best time on the 2020 medium compound.
Sergio Pérez, a podium finisher in Turkey, was the best of the rest for the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team, but the Mexican was over nine-tenths of a second down on Hamilton’s best time. He finished just ahead of McLaren F1 Team’s Carlos Sainz Jr.
Pierre Gasly placed an excellent fifth for Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda, ahead of the two Aston Martin Red Bull Racing drivers, Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon. Verstappen suffered a spin exiting the final corner with around half an hour of the session remaining, and his session ended with his mechanics working on his car.
Esteban Ocon was the leading Renault DP World F1 Team driver in eighth, with the Frenchman two places ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, with the duo either side of the second Racing Point of Lance Stroll, who took pole position last time out in Turkey.
Charles Leclerc, who took pole position in Bahrain in 2019 and almost the victory before mechanical issues plagued his car, was the leading Scuderia Ferrari driver in eleventh. The Monegasque was negatively vocal about the 2021 tyres over the radio, but when on the 2020 tyres, he was able to outpace team-mate Sebastian Vettel by 0.039 seconds.
Robert Kubica, running free practice for Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN in place of Kimi Räikkönen, ended up thirteenth, ahead of the two Haas F1 Team drivers, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. Grosjean had a wild moment at turn seven that nearly saw the Frenchman end up in the wall, but he was able to recover to the pits and continue his planned programme without too much lost time.
The second Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi was sixteenth ahead of AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, with Lando Norris down in eighteenth in the second McLaren, more than 1.3 seconds behind team-mate Sainz.
Nicholas Latifi was nineteenth for Williams Racing ahead of Roy Nissany, who ended his third free practice outing of the season for the team at the back of the field, albeit only three-tenths of a second behind the Canadian. George Russell will resume his usual duties for the team for the rest of the weekend.
With times in this session unlikely to be representative due to being run in daytime, Friday afternoon’s second session, which will be held under the lights at the Bahrain International Circuit, is expected to be busy as teams and drivers prepare themselves for Saturday’s Qualifying session and Sunday’s race, both of which will take place under the blanket of darkness.
Bahrain Grand Prix Free Practice 1 Times
|1||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:29.033||40|
|2||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:29.482||+0.449||41|
|3||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||1:30.000||+0.967||31|
|4||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||McLaren F1 Team||1:30.018||+0.985||31|
|5||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:30.049||+1.016||34|
|6||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1:30.294||+1.261||18|
|7||23||Alexander Albon||THA||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1:30.302||+1.269||34|
|8||31||Esteban Ocon||GER||Renault DP World F1 Team||1:30.384||+1.351||28|
|9||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||1:30.436||+1.393||30|
|10||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Renault DP World F1 Team||1:30.508||+1.475||30|
|11||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1:30.589||+1.556||29|
|12||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Scuderia Ferrari||1:30.628||+1.595||24|
|13||88||Robert Kubica||POL||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||1:30.732||+1.699||24|
|14||7||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Haas F1 Team||1:30.832||+1.799||28|
|15||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1:30.854||+1.821||29|
|16||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||1:30.896||+1.863||27|
|17||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:31.020||+1.987||37|
|18||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1:31.392||+2.359||27|
|19||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1:32.472||+3.439||29|
|20||40||Roy Nissany||ISR||Williams Racing||1:32.801||+3.768||27|