Lewis Hamilton Allows Max Verstappen To Top Bahrain GP Practice Sessions

Bahrain GP 2021 Max Verstappen Dailycarblog

Max Verstappen topped both practice sessions at the opening weekend of the Bahrain GP. Verstappen looked comfortable as he set a time of 1:30.847s with Lando Norris second and Lewis Hamilton third. Carlos Sainz was fourth for Ferrari a few tenths further back and Valtteri Bottas was fifth. Indeed the top 16 drivers were separated by one second. The time set by Verstappen is not representative of Red Bull’s outright pace and is three seconds off last season’s qualifying lap time. You should look at the first practice sessions as an installation period. It is a technical opportunity to setup up the car and gather data for the weekend ahead.

As a consequence, the cars will be running on near full fuel tanks which impacts outright pace. So, while Verstappen is grabbing the headlines for topping practice 1 & 2 it isn’t guaranteed he has the fastest car. We do know he has a car capable of competing with Lewis Hamilton, or at least we are led to believe into thinking so. Mercedes traditionally hold back their true pace during practice. With engines limited to three power units for the entire season, risk management is key to longevity.

Bahrain GP 2021 Lewis Hamilton Dailycarblog

Mercedes is hinting that this years car is proving difficult to drive. Valtteri Bottas said as much over the radio during Practice 2. But is this gamesmanship from Mercedes or a real and present danger? Difficult to say, but it would have to be extreme incompetence for Mercedes to lose form so suddenly. After all the regulations remain unchanged for 2021 and the W12 is really a continuation of last year’s design and engineering philosophy.

And if the Mercedes is proving difficult to extract maximum performance the team does at least have a trick up its sleeve… Lewis Hamilton. It is difficult to draw any conclusions from the opening practice sessions because the times are three seconds off the real qualifying pace. We won’t really know which team has the upper hand until qualifying is done and dusted. 

2021 Bahrain GP Practice Session 2:

133Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda1:30.84723
24Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes1:30.942+0.095s25
344Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:31.082+0.235s24
455Carlos SainzFerrari1:31.127+0.280s26
577Valtteri BottasMercedes1:31.218+0.371s23
63Daniel RicciardoMcLaren Mercedes1:31.230+0.383s22
722Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri Honda1:31.294+0.447s23
818Lance StrollAston Martin Mercedes1:31.393+0.546s24
910Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri Honda1:31.483+0.636s27
1011Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda1:31.503+0.656s23
1131Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:31.601+0.754s24
1216Charles LeclercFerrari1:31.612+0.765s26
1399Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:31.740+0.893s27
145Sebastian VettelAston Martin Mercedes1:31.769+0.922s26
1514Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:31.770+0.923s24
167Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:31.862+1.015s15
1763George RussellWilliams Mercedes1:32.331+1.484s28
1847Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:33.297+2.450s24
196Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:33.400+2.553s28
209Nikita MazepinHaas Ferrari1:33.449+2.602s19

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