Lewis Hamilton tops Bahrain Grand Prix second practice
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Lewis Hamilton tops Bahrain Grand Prix second practice

Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes one-two in Thursday practice at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton tops Bahrain Grand Prix second practice
Lewis Hamilton tops Bahrain Grand Prix second practice

Hamilton was 0.206 seconds quicker than team-mate George Russell with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso just 0.08secs further adrift.

Pre-season favourite Max Verstappen was down in sixth, 0.477secs off the pace.

However, the three-time world champion appeared to be the fastest as expected when the teams switched to race-simulation runs later in the session.

The teams did not run this practice session in the same manner as usual, making it even harder to read from the outside even than normal.

Behind Alonso, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was fourth quickest ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri.

Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg was seventh, with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez completing the top 10.

Hamilton said afterwards: “The car was feeling good, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves. We know there is more to extract, and our long run pace isn’t in the fight with the Red Bulls.

“Overall, though, I’m feeling much happier with the car than last year. We’ve made some good improvements and it feels much more like a race car.”

Team-mate George Russell said: “We’re not going to get carried away after one day of practice. Our qualifying pace did look strong.

“We made some changes from the test and the improvement exceeded our expectations. But ultimately our long run pace is where it counts. Verstappen looked comfortably quickest, and it was very tight with the Ferraris, the McLarens, and the Aston Martins. So we’ve likely got a real fight on our hands there.”

The season starts with the controversy over Red Bull team principal Christian Horner still overshadowing the sport.

After a complaint against Horner by a female colleague was dismissed by Red Bull on Wednesday, Mercedes and McLaren bosses Toto Wolff ands Zak Brown have called for more transparency on the matter.

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