Formula 1

Verstappen tops the first Formula 1 practice of 2021 season

3 Mins read
Credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The first weekend in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is finally upon us with the season opener, the Bahrain Grand Prix, starting with an hour of running in Free Practice 1.

This year, lap times will not be deleted for exceeding limits at Turn 4, with FIA race director Michael Masisaying in his event notes The track limits at the exit of Turn 4 will not be monitored with regard to setting a lap time, as the defining limits are the artificial grass and the gravel trap in that location.” 

The session was topped by Max Verstappen, ahead ofthe two Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers. Verstappen’s new Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Pérez couldn’t quite match his pace and finished down in sixth.

Valtteri Bottas came in second, just beating his teammate Lewis Hamilton who came in fourth. Already, Mercedes have proved that their testing performance was nothing to worry about and it’s all business as usual at the team.

In the battle between the two McLaren F1 Team drivers was won by Lando Norris. There’s been a lot of talk during the off season that he’ll be shadowed by new teammate Daniel Ricciardo but Norris is out to prove himself. He finished third fastest with Ricciardo in ninth.

Scuderia Ferrari already look to have improved massively on their previous year. Charles Leclerc was right in the mix in the top half of the table, finishing fifth fastest overall. It’s Carlos Sainz Jr’s. first race weekend in a Ferrari and he’ll be hoping it’s a good one. He was eighth fastest overall.

Yuki Tsunoda was introduced to traffic in today’s session; The young Japanese driver was audibly annoyed with getting stuck in it during a flying lap. He was fourteenth fastest overall with his Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda teammate Pierre Gasly in the top ten and flying in seventh.

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN continued on with another strong session after being one of the standout teams during testing. There wasn’t much between the two drivers with Antonio Giovinazzi in tenth and Kimi Räikkönen just behind him in eleventh.

Things haven’t gone smoothly for Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team in their re-entry into F1, with Sebastian Vettel finishing twelfth and Lance Stroll in thirteenth.

Alpine F1 Team were the first out in the morning session but didn’t put in any high-flying laps. They’ve found themselves floating near the bottom of the table with Esteban Ocon finishing fifteenth and Fernando Alonso just behind him in sixteenth.

Williams Racing added a tribute to the late Murray Walker on their car. “And I’ve got to stop, because I’ve got a lump in my throat” written on each driver’s halo, a touching acknowledgement. George Russell finished the session in seventeenth with Nicholas Latifi in eighteenth.

Uralkali Haas F1 Team found themselves at the bottom of the pack. It’s the first race weekend for their two rookies Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin and they still have a few things to learn with the car to push the team up the grid. They finished nineteenth and twentieth respectively. 

While the morning sessions in Bahrain are useful for data collection, a truer representation of performance will be seen in the second practice session, which will take place in similar conditions to qualifying and the race, under the floodlit circuit.

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 times

133Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull Racing Honda1:31.39412
277Valtteri BottasFINMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:31.692+0.298s17
34Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1:31.897+0.503s20
444Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:31.921+0.527s15
516Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow1:31.993+0.599s14
611Sergio PérezMEXRed Bull Racing Honda1:32.071+0.677s15
710Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:32.195+0.801s23
855Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPScuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow1:32.366+0.972s15
93Daniel RicciardoAUSMcLaren F1 Team1:32.434+1.040s20
1099Antonio GiovinazziITAAlfa Romeo Racing Orlen1:32.786+1.392s16
117Kimi RäikkönenFINAlfa Romeo Racing Orlen1:33.134+1.740s18
125Sebastian VettelGERAston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team1:33.157+1.763s21
1318Lance StrollCANAston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team1:33.233+1.839s20
1422Yuki TsunodaJAPScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:33.329+1.935s21
1531Esteban OconFRAAlpine F1 Team1:33.528+2.134s20
1614Fernando AlonsoESPAlpine F1 Team1:33.872+2.478s18
1763George RussellGBRWilliams Racing1:34.127+2.733s22
186Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing1:34.340+2.946s22
1947Mick SchumacherGERUralkali Haas F1 Team1:34.501+3.107s16
209Nikita MazepinRUSUralkali Haas F1 Team1:34.975+3.581s16
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