Max Verstappen immediately set the fastest time in Bahrain during the first free practice of 2021 on Friday. The Dutchman of Red Bull Racing clocked 1.31,394 on the Bahrain International Circuit.
Verstappen was the fastest, but was still 2.4 seconds slower than his fastest time in the winter tests of two weeks ago on the same circuit. All drivers will accelerate towards Saturday afternoon’s qualifying.
Mercedes was just behind Verstappen during the first practice; the second fastest time (1.31.692) was driven by Valtteri Bottas. It was the first time since 2014 that a Mercedes did not finish the first practice of the season as the fastest.
Bottas was followed by McLaren’s Lando Norris. The team will be driving a Mercedes engine this year and is expected to be one of the surprises. Norris gave the first glimpse of his car’s speed with a time of 1.31.897.
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton clocked the fourth time (1.31.921), six tenths slower than Verstappen. The Mercedes looked more stable during training than on the problematic expired test days.
Ferrari gave a first impression of a small step up after the disastrous end of 2020. Charles Leclerc admitted six tenths to the time of Verstappen. Leclerc’s new teammate Carlos Sainz clocked eighth fastest time.
Pérez is still a bit behind on Verstappen
In the incident-free first practice session, Sergio Pérez could not quite follow the pace of Verstappen at Red Bull. The Mexican was sixth fastest, almost seven tenths behind the Limburger. Pérez previously stated that he would need a few races to get used to his new car.
The top ten was further completed by Daniel Ricciardo in the McLaren (1.32.434) and Antonio Giovinazzi in the surprisingly fast-looking Alfa Romeo (1.32.786).
The second free practice will be held at dusk at 4 p.m. and under cooler conditions. During the first training the track temperature was 44 degrees and the outside temperature was high at 36 degrees Celsius. The conditions during the second practice are more similar to those during qualifying and the race and therefore also give a more representative picture of the battle order.
- Second free practice: Friday – 4 p.m.
- Third free practice: Saturday – 1 p.m.
- Qualifying: Saturday – 4pm
- Race: Sunday – 5pm
Source site www.nu.nl