Formula 1

Russell Continues Impressive Mercedes Debut By Topping Second Sakhir GP Practice

3 Mins read
Credit: LAT Images

George Russell capped off an excellent first day with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team by topping the second practice session for the Sakhir Grand Prix as team-mate Valtteri Bottas languished in eleventh.

Russell, racing at Mercedes in place of Lewis Hamilton this weekend after the World Champion tested positive for coronavirus, took top spot for the second time in as many sessions on Friday evening around the outer circuit of the Bahrain International Circuit.

His best time of 54.713 was enough for him to take top spot, 0.128 seconds clear of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, while BWT Racing Point Formula One Team’s Sergio Pérez continued his strong form with the third fastest time.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the garage, Bottas was having his best times deleted as he flaunted too much with the track limits of the Sakhir track, with stewards keeping a keen eye on the exit of turn eight, with those who put all four wheels over the red and white kerbing losing their lap time.

As a result, Bottas’ best time of the session was not set on the fastest, red-banded soft compound tyre, and he will go into Saturday’s sessions knowing he will need to be quick but stay inside the track limits if he is to be at the front of the field.  He had fastest sector times, but he wasn’t able to put a complete lap together to make them count.

Esteban Ocon was quickest early on for the Renault DP World F1 Team, and the Frenchman ended his day with the fourth best time, just ahead of the second Red Bull of Alexander Albon and the leading Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda of Daniil Kvyat.

Lance Stroll, who has scored only two points since finishing on the podium in the Italian Grand Prix at the beginning of September, was seventh fastest, less than four-tenths of a second shy on Russell’s best, while the second Renault of Daniel Ricciardo was eighth ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and the leading McLaren F1 Team driver, Carlos Sainz Jr.

Behind eleventh placed Bottas was his fellow Finn, Kimi Räikkönen, with the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN driver finishing less than half a tenth of a second faster than his team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi in thirteenth.

Kevin Magnussen led the Haas F1 Team charge in fourteenth, with his team-mate for this weekend, Pietro Fittipaldi continuing to adapt to life in Formula 1 after replacing the injured Romain Grosjean.  The first Brazilian to race in Formula 1 since Felipe Massa completed fifty-six laps on Friday evening and ended up eighteenth fastest.

Nicholas Latifi showed good pace in the leading of the Williams Racing entries, with the Canadian ending fifteenth fastest.  His new team-mate, Jack Aitken, was also continuing his learning after stepping up from test driver to replace Mercedes-bound Russell.  The Anglo-Korean driver completed the joint-most laps of anyone with fifty-eight and was nineteenth fastest.

Lando Norris ended up down in seventeenth in the second McLaren after suffering damage from running across the kerbing at turn three.  He went back to the pits and did not reappear, with the Briton suffering with a power unit issue.

Scuderia Ferrari had an awful session, with Sebastian Vettel the only driver to set a lap time as Charles Leclerc was restricted to just two laps until he ran wide and lost drive exiting turn eight.  He crawled back to the pits with a driveshaft issue and ended up bottom of the timing sheets.

Vettel suffered two spins early on, one on the medium tyre at turn two and then on the soft at turn five, with the German ending up only sixteenth fastest.  Ferrari has a lot of work to do overnight if they want to turn their fortunes around for the rest of the weekend.

But it was Russell’s day, but only time can tell if the popular Briton can continue that form into the rest of the weekend.  He is, after all, ‘Mr Saturday’, so it will be interesting to see if he can continue his unbroken run of out-qualifying his team-mate in Qualifying, particularly with such a strong foe as Bottas.

Pos.No.DriverNat.TeamTimeGapLaps
163George RussellGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team54.71348
233Max VerstappenNEDAston Martin Red Bull Racing54.8410.12843
311Sergio PerezMEXBWT Racing Point Formula One Team54.8660.15352
431Esteban OconFRARenault DP World F1 Team54.9400.22750
523Alexander AlbonTHAAston Martin Red Bull Racing55.0360.32342
626Daniil KvyatRUSScuderia AlphaTauri Honda55.0680.35558
718Lance StrollCANBWT Racing Point Formula One Team55.1040.39144
83Daniel RicciardoAUSRenault DP World F1 Team55.1240.41147
910Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri Honda55.1330.42048
1055Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPMcLaren F1 Team55.2580.54539
1177Valtteri BottasFINMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team55.3210.60852
127Kimi RaikkonenFINAlfa Romeo Racing ORLEN55.4840.77154
1399Antonio GiovinazziITAAlfa Romeo Racing ORLEN55.5330.82057
1420Kevin MagnussenDENHaas F1 Team55.7381.02549
156Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing55.7841.07152
165Sebastian VettelGERScuderia Ferrari55.8301.11743
174Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team56.0311.31814
1851Pietro FittipaldiBRZHaas F1 Team56.1101.39756
1989Jack AitkenGBRWilliams Racing56.2601.54758
2016Charles LeclercMONScuderia FerrariNo Time2
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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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