George Russell remained at the top of the Formula 1 timesheets in his first day of action for Mercedes by doubling up in second practice for the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes Formula 1 stand-in George Russell completed a clean sweep of practice sessions by going fastest in Sakhir Grand Prix FP2, while team-mate Valtteri Bottas had track-limits issues.
While Hamilton’s condition and whether he will be back in time for Abu Dhabi was a key talking point on Friday, so was how rapidly Russell got up to speed in the Mercedes despite some issues with the tightness of the cockpit and uncomfortable safety belts.
The best laps came with around 45 minutes to go on the soft tyres and Bottas delivered two efforts good enough to go quickest, but both were deleted for circuit infringements which left him down in 11th.
His fastest sectors combined for a three tenths advantage over Russell, but his race simulations meant he wasn’t able to put in a headline lap in what was ultimately a scruffy session.
PRACTICE 2 RESULTS
|1||George RUSSELL||Mercedes||0: 54,713|
|2||Max VERSTAPPEN||Red Bull||0: 54,841|
|3||Sergio PÉREZ||Racing Point||0: 54.866|
|4||Esteban OCON||Renault||0: 54,940|
|5||Alexander ALBON||Red Bull||0: 55,036|
|6||Daniil KVYAT||Alpha Tauri||0: 55,068|
|7||Lance STROLL||Racing Point||0: 55.104|
|8||Daniel RICCIARDO||Renault||0: 55,124|
|9||Pierre GASLY||Alpha Tauri||0: 55.133|
|10||Carlos SAINZ||McLaren||0: 55.258|
|11||Valtteri BOTTAS||Mercedes||0: 55,321|
|12||Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN||Alfa Romeo||0: 55,484|
|13||Antonio GIOVINAZZI||Alfa Romeo||0: 55,533|
|14||Kevin MAGNUSSEN||Haas||0: 55.738|
|15||Nicholas LATIFI||Williams||0: 55.784|
|16||Sebastian VETTEL||Ferrari||0: 55.830|
|17||Lando NORRIS||McLaren||0: 56,031|
|18||Pietro FITTIPALDI||Haas||0: 56,110|
|19||Jack AITKEN||Williams||0: 56,260|
Instead, Max Verstappen was Russell’s closest rival but suffered a number of issues in the Red Bull.
Both he and team-mate Alex Albon reported severe understeer while Verstappen reported a repeat of the car ‘hopping’ coming out of Turn 1, which was present in Bahrain last week.
Verstappen ended the session 0.128s adrift of Russell, but also displayed strong long-run pace which may point to an interesting battle with Mercedes.
Sergio Perez was one of the first drivers to jump onto the soft tyre, and set the third fastest time of the session.
His running wasn’t without drama as part of the Racing Point’s camera mounting came away and landed in his cockpit, and he helpfully drove one-handed to bring the item back to the pits.
Esteban Ocon gave Renault hope on the Outer circuit layout of the Sakhir venue, 0.227s shy of Russell’s benchmark, with Albon just behind in the second Red Bull in fifth.
Daniil Kvyat appeared at home and delivered the sixth fastest time for Alpha Tauri, ahead of Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo who were both bested by their team-mates.
Pierre Gasly was ninth in a strong session for AlphaTauri despite getting hit on his finger by gravel, as Carlos Sainz Jr rounded out the top 10. A gear synchronisation issue halted the McLaren’s progress in the closing stages.
Behind Bottas in 11th, Kimi Raikkonen led Alfa Romeo team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi, with Kevin Magnussen of Haas the first driver over one second off the pace.
It was a nightmare session for Ferrari.
Charles Leclerc failed to set a time due to a halfshaft issue, leaving team boss Mattia Binotto and Leclerc watching on as the rear of the car was dismantled.
Unfortunately it made for tough viewing as Sebastian Vettel was only 16th fastest behind Williams’s Nicholas Latifi.
Vettel continually ran wide at the exit of Turn 5 and spun twice, narrowly missing Magnussen on one occasion.
Lando Norris missed the majority of the session with floor damage caused by running over the kerb at the exit of Turn 2.
Pietro Fittipaldi (Haas) led fellow newcomer and Williams driver Jack Aitken as they took 18th and 19th respectively.
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|02:00 - 03:30||Free practice 1|
|06:00 - 07:30||Free practice 2|
|04:00 - 05:00||Free practice 3|
|07:00 - 07:18||Qualifying|
|06:10 - 08:10||Race|