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.
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:31.394||-||12|
|3||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes||1:31.897||+0.503s||20|
|6||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:32.071||+0.677s||15|
|7||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda||1:32.195||+0.801s||23|
|9||3||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren Mercedes||1:32.434||+1.040s||20|
|10||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:32.786||+1.392s||16|
|11||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:33.134||+1.740s||18|
|12||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:33.157||+1.763s||21|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:33.233||+1.839s||20|
|14||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri Honda||1:33.329||+1.935s||21|
|15||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:33.528||+2.134s||20|
|16||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:33.872||+2.478s||18|
|17||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:34.127||+2.733s||22|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:34.340||+2.946s||22|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:34.501||+3.107s||16|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:34.975||+3.581s||16|