Lewis Hamilton Allows Max Verstappen To Top Bahrain GP Practice Sessions
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.
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:
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:30.847||23|
|2||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes||1:30.942||+0.095s||25|
|6||3||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren Mercedes||1:31.230||+0.383s||22|
|7||22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri Honda||1:31.294||+0.447s||23|
|8||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:31.393||+0.546s||24|
|9||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda||1:31.483||+0.636s||27|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:31.503||+0.656s||23|
|11||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:31.601||+0.754s||24|
|13||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:31.740||+0.893s||27|
|14||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:31.769||+0.922s||26|
|15||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:31.770||+0.923s||24|
|16||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:31.862||+1.015s||15|
|17||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:32.331||+1.484s||28|
|18||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:33.297||+2.450s||24|
|19||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:33.400||+2.553s||28|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:33.449||+2.602s||19|