FP1: Russell tops first practice on Mercedes debut

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Sakhir, Bahrain International Circuitbh

Stepping in for Lewis Hamilton, George Russell set the pace in the opening free practice session for the Sakhir Grand Prix as drivers conquered the Outer layout of the Bahrain International Circuit.

Despite the lack of preparation, George Russell demonstrated his own speed and Mercedes W11’s dominant performance by putting his new machinery to the top of the Standings. Following their double podium finis hat last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Red Bull drivers Red Bull and Alexander Albon finished second and third respectively.

However, it was a less productive session for the London-born Thai driver in terms of mileage as he only completed 18 laps around the 3.5km Outer Circuit which was the lowest number of laps in the opening session. The two-time F1 podium finisher also had a scary moment when he had a high-speed spin at Turn 2 late in the session but his RB16 was fortunately left unscathed.

Mercedes’ Finn driver Valtteri Bottas finished three tenths of a second behind Russell as he suffered from balance issues on the short Sakhir track. AlphaTauri drivers Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly made a flying start to their weekend by posting the fifth and sixth fastest lap in the session.

Renault and Ferrari drivers occupied the lower end of the Top ten with the Scuderia showing a slightly improved pace than last weekend.

This weekend’s two debutants, Pietro Fittipaldi and Jack Aitken ended up at the bottom end of the leaderboard. The Miami-born Brazilian completed 24 laps, a second behind Haas’ Dane driver, Kevin Magnussen.

Fittipaldi’s running was cut short after he suffered a lock-up on his second set of tyres, flat-spotting them. The incident meant that he had to return to the garage and follow the closing stages of the session from the pits.

Jack Aitken notched up 33 laps in total, recording a lap time of 57.187 that was four tenths of a second slower than what his team mate Nicholas Latifi achieved.

Results

OSNo.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
163George RussellMERCEDES54.546-49
233Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA54.722+0.176s29
323Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA54.811+0.265s18
477Valtteri BottasMERCEDES54.868+0.322s44
526Daniil KvyatALPHATAURI HONDA55.011+0.465s40
610Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI HONDA55.166+0.620s37
731Esteban OconRENAULT55.273+0.727s49
85Sebastian VettelFERRARI55.281+0.735s40
93Daniel RicciardoRENAULT55.379+0.833s39
1016Charles LeclercFERRARI55.449+0.903s35
1118Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES55.558+1.012s41
1211Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES55.716+1.170s33
1355Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT55.757+1.211s41
147Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI55.783+1.237s32
1599Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI55.858+1.312s35
164Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT56.078+1.532s47
1720Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI56.130+1.584s37
186Nicholas LatifiWILLIAMS MERCEDES56.764+2.218s48
1951Pietro FittipaldiHAAS FERRARI57.077+2.531s24
2089Jack AitkenWILLIAMS MERCEDES57.187+2.641s33