Max Verstappen fastest in Bahrain F1 Grand Prix practice, with Lewis Hamilton third

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Max Verstappen builds on the promising pre-season for Red Bull by going fastest in BOTH practice sessions on Friday before the Bahrain Grand Prix – with World Champion Lewis Hamilton third fastest for Mercedes as the new Formula 1 campaign kicks off

  • Max Verstappen was again the fastest in Bahrain after testing the fastest
  • The Dutchman ended just ahead of the Brit Lando Norris in a McLaren
  • Lewis Hamilton improved the morning performance and finished the day third

Max Verstappen continued his promising pre-season form by setting the fastest times in both practices on Friday before the new Formula 1 season at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Dutchman set the fastest time in the three-day test at Sakhir circuit prior to the new season and was again the fastest on track for Red Bull in the now shortened one-hour sessions.

In testing, Mercedes appeared to be struggling with their usual dominant displays and World Champion Lewis Hamilton could only finish the day third, albeit just two tenths behind Verstappen.

Max Verstappen has set the pace in both practice sessions on Friday of the new Formula 1 season

Max Verstappen has set the pace in both practice sessions on Friday of the new Formula 1 season

The Dutchman was the fastest in the preparation for Red Bull at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain

The Dutchman was the fastest in the preparation for Red Bull at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain

The Dutchman was the fastest in the preparation for Red Bull at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain

The Briton heads into the new season in search of an unprecedented eighth world championship, but early signs in Bahrain suggest the 36-year-old could be one of his toughest championship fights yet.

After battling for fourth in the early session and running in much warmer temperatures during the day, Hamilton improved from half a second down and still looks in good shape to at least battle for the win this weekend.

Like the second practice session, the race will be held at night and Friday’s second lap gave a better indication of race pace times.

However, Hamilton was pipped to second place by British compatriot Lando Norris, who was less than a tenth behind Verstappen in the new Mercedes-powered McLaren.

After struggling in the morning session, Lewis Hamilton improved in FP2 and finished in third fastest time

After struggling in the morning session, Lewis Hamilton improved in FP2 and finished in third fastest time

After struggling in the morning session, Lewis Hamilton improved in FP2 and finished in third fastest time

Hamilton hopes to win an unprecedented eighth world championship this term

Hamilton hopes to win an unprecedented eighth world championship this term

Hamilton hopes to win an unprecedented eighth world championship this term

BAHRAIN GP – SECOND PRACTICE

1 Verstappen (Hol) Red Bull 1 30.847

2 Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1: 30.942

3 Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1: 31.082

4 Sainz (Spa) Ferrari 1: 31.127

5 Bottas (End) Mercedes 1: 31.218

6 Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1: 31.230

7 Tsotaka (Jpn) AlphaTauri 1: 31.294

8 Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1: 31.393

9 Gasly (Fra) AlphaTauri 1: 31.483

10 Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1: 31.503

11 Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1: 31.601

12 Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1: 31.612

13 Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo 1: 31.740

14 Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1: 31.769

15 Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1: 31.770

16 Raikkonen (End) A. Romeo 1: 31.862

17 Russell (Gbr) Williams 1: 32.331

18 Schumacher (Ger) Haas 1: 33.297

19 Latifi (Can) Williams 1: 33.400

20 Mazepin (RAF) Haas 1: 33.449

Ferrari had their worst season since 1980 last season, but showed hope for improvement when Carlos Sainz impressed to run fourth, just ahead of Hamilton’s time, while a tenth behind Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was fifth.

After Ricciardo’s McLaren and an impressive second practice session for AlphaTauri debutant Yuki Tsunoda, Aston Martin saw Lance Stroll back on the grid for the first time since 1960, eighth and a half seconds behind Verstappen.

His new teammate Sebastain Vettel didn’t fare much better, however, with the four-time world champion who finished the day in a disappointing 14th place.

Fernando Alonso made a calm return to F1 after two years away from the sport with Alpine’s 15th fastest time behind teammate Esteban Ocon in 11th.

Briton George Russell climbed off the bottom lane to finish ahead of Haas, whose debutant driver pair Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time world champion Michael, finished 18th fastest ahead of Nikita Mazepin who held the order.

Hamilton's British countryman Lando Norris (above) finished as the second fastest driver on Friday

Hamilton's British countryman Lando Norris (above) finished as the second fastest driver on Friday

Hamilton’s British countryman Lando Norris (above) finished as the second fastest driver on Friday

Sparks fly from Carlos Sainz's Ferrari that finished an impressive fourth place for Ferrari on Friday

Sparks fly from Carlos Sainz's Ferrari that finished an impressive fourth place for Ferrari on Friday

Sparks fly from Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari that finished an impressive fourth place for Ferrari on Friday

BAHRAIN GP – FIRST PRACTICE

1 Verstappen (Hol) Red Bull 1: 31.394

2 Bottas (End) Mercedes 1: 31.692

3 Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1: 31.897

4 Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1: 31.921

5 Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1: 31.993

6 Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1: 32.071

7 Gasly (Fra) AlphaTauri 1: 32.195

8 Sainz (Spa) Ferrari 1: 32.366

9 Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1: 32.434

10 Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo 1: 32.786

11 Raikkonen (End) Alfa Romeo 1: 33.134

12 Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1: 33.157

13 Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1: 33.233

14 Search (Jpn) AlphaTauri 1: 33.329

15 Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1: 33.528,

16 Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1: 33.872

17 Russell (Gbr) Williams 1: 34.127

18 Latifi (Can) Williams 1: 34.340

19 Schumacher (Ger) Haas 1: 34.501

20 Mazepin (RAF) Haas 1: 34.975

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