FP1: Hamilton tops Bottas in first Bahrain session

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuitbh

The first time back at the wheel of his Mercedes after being crowned World Champion ended up in another session topping performance for Lewis Hamilton. He ended up nearly half a second faster than Valtteri Bottas as Sergio Perez was the closest challenger of the Mercedes duo.

This first practice was the first where teams could test Pirelli's 2021 prototype tyres, but they were not required to use them yet. Second practice however mandates a minimum of 6 laps for all drivers, enabling Pirelli to gather sufficient data.

Lewis Hamilton went fastest early on, seemingly untroubled by the dust that was covering the track. After a short stint on the prototype tyres, he improved on the medium compound tyres. Valtteri Bottas similarly set his best time on the medium compound Pirellis.

While there isn't anything left to fight for in the championship for Mercedes, the same can't be said for the midfield teams, and all eyes will be on them in the coming three race weekends, as they look set for a fierce battle for third in the Constructors' Championship.

Sergio Perez ended up a second down on the leading Mercedes, but the best times of the cars behind him on the timing sheet were a close match, with Sainz, Gasly, Verstappen, Albon, Ocon and Stroll all within 4 tenths.

The session also saw some test drivers come into action. At Alfa Romeo, Robert Kubica drove Kimi Raikkonen's car and proved two tenths faster than regular Giovinazzi.

At Williams, Roy Nissani took the wheel of George Russell's car, but he was unable to beat his team mate, leaving him last. The Israeli F2 driver concentrated on "rear-wing performance as well as looking at some development items". Both Williams weren't fast however, with Latifi also more than 3.4s down on Hamilton, and more than a full second slower than 18th placed Lando Norris.

Running continues at 18:00 local time for FP2.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:29.033-40
277Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:29.482+0.449s41
311Sergio PerezRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:30.000+0.967s31
455Carlos SainzMcLaren Renault1:30.018+0.985s31
510Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri Honda1:30.049+1.016s34
633Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda1:30.294+1.261s18
723Alexander AlbonRed Bull Racing Honda1:30.302+1.269s34
831Esteban OconRenault1:30.384+1.351s28
918Lance StrollRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:30.426+1.393s30
103Daniel RicciardoRenault1:30.508+1.475s30
1116Charles LeclercFerrari1:30.589+1.556s29
125Sebastian VettelFerrari1:30.628+1.595s24
1388Robert KubicaAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:30.732+1.699s24
148Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:30.832+1.799s28
1520Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:30.854+1.821s29
1699Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:30.896+1.863s27
1726Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri Honda1:31.020+1.987s37
184Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault1:31.392+2.359s27
196Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:32.472+3.439s29
2040Roy NissanyWilliams Mercedes1:32.801+3.768s27