Mercedes Flexes Strength with Hamilton-Russell One-Two in Bahrain Practice Session

Lewis Hamilton took the lead, securing a one-two finish for Mercedes in the second practice session at the Bahrain Grand Prix, setting the stage for an unpredictable qualifying round for the F1 season’s start.

The seven-time World Champion recorded the fastest lap with a time of 1:30.374, edging out his teammate George Russell by 0.206 seconds.

Fernando Alonso claimed the third spot for Aston Martin. Although fuel loads can affect performance in practice sessions, Max Verstappen’s sixth-place finish leaves many uncertainties ahead of the season’s first qualifying session.

Hamilton led the pack in both qualifying simulation attempts, positioning himself favorably for the upcoming Friday qualifying.

Russell seemed to be facing more difficulties than his teammate initially. However, after adjustments were made to the front end of his W15, the British driver managed to secure a position right behind Hamilton.

Alonso displayed impressive speed, outperforming Carlos Sainz. Sainz delivered Ferrari’s most indicative lap time, especially since his teammate Charles Leclerc, who ended up ninth fastest, faced setbacks due to traffic and a lock-up on another lap into Turn 4, expressing frustration over the team radio about his competitors being “asleep.”

At McLaren, the outcomes were mixed: Oscar Piastri came remarkably close to Hamilton’s top time, finishing within half a second. Conversely, Lando Norris encountered an error in the last sector of his run, finishing at the bottom of the leaderboard.

Verstappen’s best lap left him 0.477 seconds behind Hamilton, challenging the prevailing expectation that the Red Bull RB20 would dominate the field.

Although Red Bull’s dominance may still emerge during qualifying, the straight-line speeds of both cars were comparable, suggesting any strategic holding back likely occurred in the corners.

During the race simulations, Verstappen and his teammate Sergio Perez showed formidable pace, consistently clocking times in the 1:36 range.

Nico Hulkenberg showcased his exceptional one-lap prowess from the previous season, securing the seventh-fastest time for Haas, outpacing Lance Stroll, while Perez completed the top 10 behind Leclerc.

Alex Albon achieved the 11th fastest time for Williams, being the last driver to come within a second of Hamilton’s time, slightly ahead of Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, which had led the first practice session.