Hamilton fastest as Albon crashes in Bahrain practice

Lewis Hamilton pic: Mercedes F1 Twitter

Lewis Hamilton has left Mercedes on top following the opening day of track action for the Bahrain Grand Prix as Alex Albon found the wall.

Hamilton topped both sessions while a mistake from Albon in Free Practice 2 saw the Red Bull driver damage his car and trigger a red flag.

Under pressure to retain his seat next season, the Thai driver was seventh fastest in the opening session before the FP2 mistake.

Rounding the final corner, Albon dropped a wheel over the kerb, the car snapping out of control and firing him into the barrier.

He ended the session 10th as a consequence, with 17 laps to his name – the fewest of any driver in the session.

By contrast, team-mate Max Verstappen had topped the timing screens for much of the session courtesy of an early flying lap.

The Dutchman’s ultimate pace was 1:29.318s as he demonstrated strong performance on the medium compound tyre.

Efforts to best that on the softer compound rubber proved difficult as all drivers struggled to maintain grip over the course of an entire lap.

Hamilton was able to produce a lap late in the session, moving 0.347s clear of Verstappen’s best, while Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) was just 0.018s slower than the Red Bull in third.

It was similarly close between Sergio Perez (Racing Point) and Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) for fourth in the standings, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly also in the mix.

The Frenchman had been in contention in Practice 1, setting the fifth fastest time just over a second off Hamilton’s fastest time of the session.

McLaren’s pace was masked somewhat when Carlos Sainz had a flying effort interrupted by a red flag, triggered when a dog found its way onto the circuit.

Forced to abandon the lap, it left the Spaniard in 13th, 1.3s away from the pace and 0.5s away from team-mate Lando Norris in seventh.

Verstappen’s upswing in pace in Practice 2 came after ending the earlier 90-minute hit out just sixth.

That included a spin at the final corner though, unlike Albon, his proved innocuous beyond a set of flat spotted tyres.

Hamilton topped the opening session by more than 0.4s as Mercedes proved the class of the field, Perez in third almost a full second adrift.

Sainz offered a glimpse of McLaren’s potential with the fourth best time, on par with Perez, though Norris was just 18th.

Ferrari failed to break into the top 10 in either session, Charles Leclerc’s 11th in FP1 the best result for the Scuderia, though 1.556s away from Hamilton’s time.

The margin to the lead Ferrari reduced to 1.139s with Sebastian Vettel the higher placed of the squad’s two drivers as the field spread condensed by 1.1s in FP2.

Elsewhere, Robert Kubica took part in Practice 1 in place of Kimi Raikkonen for Alfa Romeo, the Pole 13th fastest just under 0.2s up on team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi.

Romain Grosjean had a spin at Turn 7 early in proceedings but was able to continue, setting the 14th fastest time in FP1 ahead of Kevin Magnussen in 15th in the second Haas.

The pair then slipped to 19th and 16th respectively in the day’s second session, Magnussen holding sway 1.8s away from the increased outright pace.

Practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix continues tomorrow (local time) with the final 60-minute session at 22:00 AEDT with qualifying to follow at 01:00 AEDT on Sunday morning.

Result: Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice 2

Pos Num Driver Team Time Diff
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:28.971
2 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 1:29.318 +0.347s
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:29.336 +0.365s
4 11 Sergio Perez Racing Point BWT Mercedes 1:29.403 +0.432s
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:29.462 +0.491s
6 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda 1:29.551 +0.580s
7 4 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 1:29.841 +0.870s
8 18 Lance Stroll Racing Point BWT Mercedes 1:29.871 +0.900s
9 26 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri Honda 1:29.900 +0.929s
10 23 Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing Honda 1:30.014 +1.043s
11 31 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:30.085 +1.114s
12 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:30.110 +1.139s
13 55 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault 1:30.271 +1.300s
14 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:30.407 +1.436s
15 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:30.627 +1.656s
16 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:30.849 +1.878s
17 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:30.928 +1.957s
18 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 1:30.973 +2.002s
19 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:31.119 +2.148s
20 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 1:31.636 +2.665s

Result: Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice 1

Pos Num Driver Team Time Diff
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29.033
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:29.482 +0.449s
3 11 Sergio Perez Racing Point BWT Mercedes 1:30.000 +0.967s
4 55 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault 1:30.018 +0.985s
5 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda 1:30.049 +1.016s
6 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 1:30.294 +1.261s
7 23 Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing Honda 1:30.302 +1.269s
8 31 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:30.384 +1.351s
9 18 Lance Stroll Racing Point BWT Mercedes 1:30.426 +1.393s
10 3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:30.508 +1.475s
11 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:30.589 +1.556s
12 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:30.628 +1.595s
13 88 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:30.732 +1.699s
14 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:30.832 +1.799s
15 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:30.854 +1.821s
16 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:30.896 +1.863s
17 26 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri Honda 1:31.020 +1.987s
18 4 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 1:31.392 +2.359s
19 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 1:32.472 +3.439s
20 40 Roy Nissany Williams Mercedes 1:32.801 +3.768s

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