Formula1, Motorsport

Bahrain GP: Mercedes hold one-two after 2nd practice session

On a surprising first day of track activity in Formula 1 2024 ahead of the Bahrain GP, Lewis Hamilton established a surprising pace as Mercedes finished first and second, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen coming in only sixth.

In second practice at the Bahrain International Circuit under the lights, Hamilton—who hasn’t won a race in the previous two years—did well in the all-new W15 car of the former champions, leading teammate George Russell by 0.206 seconds. Hamilton is beginning his final season at Mercedes ahead of his unexpected 2025 Ferrari switch.

Oscar Piastri of McLaren finished sixth, Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin finished third, and Carlos Sainz of Ferrari finished fourth.

“It’s a shock to see us where we are but we will take it for now, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” said Hamilton.

“We need to keep our heads down, keep working on the set-up and try and extract more.”

Red Bull, the defending world champions and overwhelming preseason favourites coming into this week, lagged behind all of their main competitors in terms of headline pace, with Verstappen falling short of Hamilton’s record by almost half a second.

However, it’s unclear how near the RB20 came to reaching its full capacity, and that will only become evident at Friday afternoon’s first qualifying session for 2024 at 4 p.m.

In real life, as in last week’s testing, fuel loads and car settings remain unknown, and it seems likely that Red Bull has been operating theirs quite cautiously to hide the car’s actual capability.

However, in the current regulation age of Formula One, Mercedes appear in better shape than they did at the beginning of each of the previous two seasons, regardless of how much the world champions are holding back.

The W15 is expected to give a significantly more productive base from which to grow with modifications over the 24-race campaign, according to the team’s British driving combination, who have already noted that it is much nicer to drive than either the 2022 or 2023 versions.

Verstappen, who won last year’s Bahrain GP at a canter to set up F1’s most-dominant-ever title victory, said: “It was not too bad. It’s just very close. Maybe some people around us already turned their engine a bit in terms of top speed.

“We just focus on ourselves. There were a few little balance issues from front to rear but nothing big, it’s just about trying to find that sweet spot.”

Bahrain GP Practice Two Timesheet

Driver Team Time
1) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.374
2) George Russell Mercedes +0.206
3) Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +0.286
4) Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.395
5) Oscar Piasti McLaren +0.410
6) Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.477
7) Nico Hulkenberg Haas +0.510
8) Lance Stroll Aston Martin +0.517
9) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.739
10) Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.741
11) Alex Albon Williams +0.959
12) Daniel Ricciardo RB +1.142
13) Logan Sargeant Williams +1.341
14) Kevin Magnussen Haas +1.390
15) Yuki Tsunoda RB +1.507
16) Pierre Gasly Alpine +1.577
17) Valtteri Bottas Sauber +1.627
18) Esteban Ocon Alpine +1.653
19) Zhou Guanyu Sauber +1.674
20) Lando Norris McLaren +2.234


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