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
|1||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:31.394||12|
|2||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:31.692||+0.298s||17|
|3||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1:31.897||+0.503s||20|
|4||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:31.921||+0.527s||15|
|5||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||1:31.993||+0.599s||14|
|6||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:32.071||+0.677s||15|
|7||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:32.195||+0.801s||23|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||1:32.366||+0.972s||15|
|9||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1:32.434||+1.040s||20|
|10||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen||1:32.786||+1.392s||16|
|11||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen||1:33.134||+1.740s||18|
|12||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||1:33.157||+1.763s||21|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||1:33.233||+1.839s||20|
|14||22||Yuki Tsunoda||JAP||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:33.329||+1.935s||21|
|15||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Alpine F1 Team||1:33.528||+2.134s||20|
|16||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Alpine F1 Team||1:33.872||+2.478s||18|
|17||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||1:34.127||+2.733s||22|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1:34.340||+2.946s||22|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||GER||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||1:34.501||+3.107s||16|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||RUS||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||1:34.975||+3.581s||16|