Lewis Hamilton dominated the first practice session at the Bahrain Grand Prix in the first race since his career as the most successful driver of all time.
Hamilton was 0. 449 seconds ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas in second place, Sergio Perez from Racing Point in third place, almost a second behind the pace.
It was an unrepresentative session, not least because the teams spent part of it evaluating tires according to the 2021 specification.
The test tires added to the complexity of the session, with Hamilton and Bottas using the 2020 medium tires to set their fastest times while others used soft tires or the test tires which were the 2021 specification medium tires.
For what it was worth, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was fourth fastest ahead of Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly and the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon.
The second session, held concurrently with qualifying and the race, is likely more representative as the teams simulate qualifying and race performance.
Racing Point, McLaren, Ferrari and Renault are fighting closely for third place in the constructors’ championship. For every position won, millions of pounds are at stake. On consecutive weekends in the middle there are three races to the east this season.
In the meantime, Perez, Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo from Renault are fighting for fourth place in the championship behind Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen.
Unusually in the desert, there were rain patches and a number of incidents at various times during the session.
Haas rider Romain Grosjean had a high-speed spin on turn six that destroyed his tires and narrowly bypassed the barriers, and Leclerc also had a less dramatic rotation on turn two.
And Bottas had problems locking his inner front wheel in Turn 10 early on. In turn 10, the driver has to brake and turn, destroy his first set of tires and damage his second.
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Formula 1, Grand Prix of Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
World news – AU – Hamilton at the top in the first practice session in Bahrain
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