Lewis Hamilton was fastest in first practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, the seven-times champion was almost four and a half tenths faster than teammate Valtteri Bottas. Going into this weekend Hamilton said he wanted to remain competitive mode to close out the season, he was fastest of the two Mercedes.
It was another dominant start to the double-header in Sakhir, Hamilton going fastest on the mediums put the world champions almost a second ahead of the Racing Point of Sergio Perez. Hamilton went fastest early on using a development tyre, before improving to go fastest on the medium tyre putting him ahead of Bottas.
Perez was narrowly faster than the McLaren of Carlos Sainz, the Spaniard was fifth fastest and was the last driver to lap within a second. However, FP1 takes place mid-afternoon making it one of the least representative sessions off the season.
Pierre Gasly completed the top five, he was a second off the outright pace in the Alpha Tauri. The Frenchman was two tenths faster than the sister Red Bull of Max Verstappen, however, the Dutchman suffered a spin with half an hour to go, which lead to him flat-spotting his tyres.
Verstappen, however, was eight-hundredths faster than his teammate Alex Albon, that put the British-Thai driver ahead of Esteban Ocon. The Frenchman made a late improvement going eighth fastest ahead of Lance Stroll and teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
The test tyres added to the complexity of the session, with Hamilton and Bottas using the 2020 medium tyres to set their fastest times, while others used soft tyres or the test tyres, which were 2021-spec medium compound tyres.
Each team were given two sets of the 2021 C3 tyre to do six laps during the session, but that didn’t appear to help Ferrari. Charles Leclerc struggling with the tyres throughout the session, he was eleventh fastest around four hundredths faster than teammate Sebastian Vettel.
The Monacan also narrowly avoided a run-in with a slow-moving Daniil Kvyat at Turn 13, sparking an angry reaction from the Ferrari driver. It appeared that the Italian team was using the daytime session for testing.
What could be more interesting is that less than half a second spilt Racing Point, Renault, McLaren and Ferrari. However, that could be because teams normally use the session in the daytime for night races as a test session to help develop next years car.
While that may be the case, it could be pivotal what we see in this evening’s session as the next three races are twilight or night races. Lance Stroll was four-hundredths behind Ocon, with Daniel Ricciardo tenth. Sebastian Vettel was twelfth behind Leclerc.
Lando Norris was unable to show his true potential, the McLaren driver was eighteenth because of reliability issues. Robert Kubica made one of his outings for Alfa Romeo going thirteenth ahead of the Haas’s. Romain Grosjean going two-hundredths faster than teammate Kevin Magnussen.
Grosjean narrowly avoided the wall after a high-speed spin at Turn Seven early in the session, ensuring he could still complete a full programme. Antonio Giovinazzi was sixteenth going just over a tenth faster than Daniil Kvyat.
Williams drivers Nicholas Latifi and Roy Nissany, who took over George Russell’s car for the session, were nineteenth and twentieth. The two drivers separated by just over three tenths.