FP1: Verstappen tops first F1 practice session of 2021

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuitbh

Max Verstappen was the fastest man in today's first free practice session at Bahrain International Circuit. The session was mostly spent to test tyres and validate aerodynamics, but in the end, Verstappen emerged on top.

Formula One's 2021 season officially kicked off with the 60-minute first practice session at Bahrain. Having had just three days of testing two weeks ago, all teams appeared to be handling this session as an extension of the pre-season tests.

Alpine for instance has a slow start of the session, with both drivers tangling as the back of the timing board halfway into the session. Mercedes on the other hand were on better pace, with Hamilton briefly going fastest around the halfway mark. It seemed though as if Hamilton as testing different rake angles on his Mercedes without really being on the ragged edge.

Soon after the 30 minute mark, Lando Norris jumped atop the timing sheet, three tenths faster than Hamilton's lap. Leclerc and Gasly snuck in between the two a few minutes later.

9 minutes from the end, Perez put Red Bull somewhat in the spotlight by moving up into 3rd, soon improved by Hamilton. Bottas topped them all moments later and went fastest in 1:31.692.

Four minutes later, Verstappen set purple sectors in S1 and S2, followed by a personal best in the final sector to go on top of the timing sheet, three tenths up on Bottas. The Dutchman's Red Bull seemed firmly planted on that quick lap, giving Verstappen no trouble to go fast.

No other driver seemed interested to come close to that time in the final minutes, leaving Red Bull to top the first session of the season, in line with their displayed performances in pre-season testing.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
133Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda1:31.394-12
277Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:31.692+0.298s17
34Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes1:31.897+0.503s20
444Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:31.921+0.527s15
516Charles LeclercFerrari1:31.993+0.599s14
611Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda1:32.071+0.677s15
710Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri Honda1:32.195+0.801s23
855Carlos SainzFerrari1:32.366+0.972s15
93Daniel RicciardoMcLaren Mercedes1:32.434+1.040s20
1099Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:32.786+1.392s16
117Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:33.134+1.740s18
125Sebastian VettelAston Martin Mercedes1:33.157+1.763s21
1318Lance StrollAston Martin Mercedes1:33.233+1.839s20
1422Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri Honda1:33.329+1.935s21
1531Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:33.528+2.134s20
1614Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:33.872+2.478s18
1763George RussellWilliams Mercedes1:34.127+2.733s22
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:34.340+2.946s22
1947Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:34.501+3.107s16
209Nikita MazepinHaas Ferrari1:34.975+3.581s16