Sports Desk, Nov 27 (efe-epa).- Two weeks after matching the legendary Michael Schumacher with a seventh Formula One world championship, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was the fastest Friday in both practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The 35-year-old Briton set a best time of 1:28.971 under the lights at the Bahrain International Circuit in Free Practice 2, 0.347s better than Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull).
Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas of Finland, was third, followed by Mexican driver Sergio “Checo” Perez (Racing Point) and Australian Daniel Ricciardo (Renault).
Sixth place in FP2 went to Frenchman Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), ahead of Britain’s Lando Norris (McLaren). The other Racing Point driver, Lance Stroll of Canada, finished eighth.
Russia’s Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri) took the ninth spot and Thai competitor Alex Albon (Red Bull) did well enough for 10th despite crashing his car into a barrier.
Then came France’s Esteban Ocon (Renault), German four-time champion Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) and the man who will replace him with the Scuderia next season, Spaniard Carlos Sainz (McLaren).
Vettel’s Monegasque teammate, Charles Leclerc, was 14th.
In FP2, each driver had to complete six timed laps on prototypes of the tires Pirelli is planning to use in the 2021 season and the situation was further complicated by two red flags: one for Albon’s crash, the other because a dog wondered onto the track.
When the session resumed after the second interruption, Hamilton put the pedal down to surpass Verstappen, who trails Bottas by just 27 points in the battle for second place in the driver standings.
Mercedes secured their record seventh consecutive constructor’s championship weeks ago and Red Bull have a lock on the second spot, leaving McLaren and Racing Point to vie for “best of the rest” honors.
Despite his dominant performance, Hamilton was not entirely happy with how the day went.
“The track’s quite slippery and gusty. This track works the tires completely – night and day – differently to the last race in Turkey, and places like Portimao (Portugal), so instead of doing a fast outlap trying to get temperature in the tires, you’re trying to go slow on the outlap to try and not put too much tire temperature in the tires,” he said.
Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, was likeness less than delighted with Friday’s action.
“It’s frustrating. Thankfully, Alex is OK, that’s the main thing,” he said.
When a reporter asked about the cost of the crash, Horner responded: “It’s difficult to quantify in money but it’s a significant amount because obviously the car’s been pulled into the barrier and it’s done at least three corners, if not all four corners – rear wing, front wing, nosebox – so it’s a significant amount.” EFE arh/dr