SAKHIR, Bahrain – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton led the way during both Friday practice sessions for the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain Int’l Circuit.
Hamilton, who recently wrapped up his record-tying seventh F-1 driving title, turned a best lap of 1:28.971 around the 3.363-mile, 15-turn course during the second session of the day.
Hamilton is the defending winner of the event and has won it three times overall.
“It felt great to get back out on the track, I just love driving this car,” said Hamilton. “Today felt a bit more like a test day though, as we didn’t get to do a lot of qualifying style laps; instead it was a lot of discovery on next year’s tires. This track works the tires completely differently compared to the last race in Turkey, it’s a night and day difference. Instead of doing a fast out lap to get temperatures into the tires, you’re trying to go slow on the outlap to not put too much temperatures into them and keep them from overheating.
“I wasn’t particularly happy with the balance of the car, but everyone is probably in a similar position as the track was quite slippery and dusty. We definitely have some work overnight to try and improve ahead of tomorrow.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen split the Mercedes pair, with Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas ending the day third overall after a nighttime session under the floodlights.
Sergio Perez was fourth-best for Racing Point, followed by Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.
McLaren’s Lando Norris, the second Racing Point of Lance Stroll, AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat and the sister Red Bull of Alex Albon filling out the top 10 on day one.
FP2 was stopped twice for notable instances, once when a dog ran onto the race course and a second time when Albon ran wide at turn 15 and crashed into the barriers.