Lewis Hamilton four-tenths of a second faster than Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes surge clear of rivals; Sergio Perez third ahead of Carlos Sainz, Max Verstappen and Alex Albon only sixth and seventh
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 27/11/20 12:33pm
Lewis Hamilton showed no signs of slowing down as a seven-time Formula 1 world champion as he set a soaring pace in first practice for the Bahrain GP.
Hamilton, who clinched his historic 2020 drivers’ crown with three races to spare last time out in Turkey but insists he wants to switch back into “competitive mode” to close out the season, led the opening Sakhir session with a 1:29.033 – 0.4s faster than team-mate Valtteri Bottas on the medium tyre.
It was a dominant way to start the weekend and the season-ending triple header as Hamilton proved to be in a class of his own. As, indeed, did Mercedes.
Sergio Perez was the Silver Arrows’ closest challenger in third but the Mexican, desperate to land a 2021 drive, was one of only two drivers – the other being McLaren’s Carlos Sainz – to lap within a second of Hamilton’s quickest time.
Max Verstappen, so often Merc’s sole rival in 2020, was only sixth and spun during the session, which took place in daylight conditions ahead of a twilight qualifying and race, and saw drivers testing out next year’s tyres.
He was just behind Pierre Gasly in the Alpha Tauri, and just ahead of team-mate Alex Albon.
More to follow.