The first practice session of the 2021 season taking place at the Bahrain International Circuit finished with Max Verstappen on P1 with his lap time of 1.31.394s. On P2 we had Valtteri Bottas with the time of 1.31.692s and Lando Norris on P3 with 1.31.857s. The rest who completed the Top 10 of that session were: Hamilton, Leclerc, Perez, Gasly, Sainz, Ricciardo and Giovinazzi.
The Bahrain GP is this seasons opener for the season, after the postponement of the Australian GP till later this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Just shortly before the first round, we had the winter testing, which also took part on the Bahrain Circuit, and it set an interesting atmosphere for the 2021 season.
With the beginning of the session, Fernando Alonso, the 2-times World Champion who’s having a comeback with Alpine F1 was the first one on track, although some just for a warm-up lap. In the first few minutes we had more than half of the grid on the track, also due to the fact that in the 2021 season the free practice sessions have been shortened to only one hour. Alonso was the first one to set a lap time, with 1.37.354s. Shortly after it was the McLaren duo, Norris and Ricciardo, topping the leaderboard with 1.33.361s and 1.34.212s respectively.
The conditions at the Sakhir track have been a little windy, with the track temperature of 47.7C during the beginning of the session, which can cause potential issues for certain teams during the weekend. Nicholas Latifi, after going P6, has reported an issue with his car, possibly with the throttle. 40 minutes till the end of the session, the only drivers that did not set a lap time were Giovinazzi, Raikkonen, Mazepin and Schumacher. Ferrari seemed to regain a little bit of momentum, having Leclerc on P5 with 1.32.904s and Sainz on P8 with 1.33.557s. After a pretty difficult testing in Bahrain, it seemed that Aston Martin was able to fix certain issues that occurred back then and resulted in Vettel being P9 and Stroll on P10 during that stage of the session.
15 minutes before the end of the session, the top ten was: Norris, Leclerc, Hamilton, Sainz, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Bottas, Perez, Raikkonen and Vettel. Both McLaren and Ferrari started to showcase a decent pace during that part of the session. So far in the session no driver reported a serious issue with their car and there has been no incidents. That means a good practice for the teams, with no reliability issues on track. There was some issues with the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, but it seemed like a switch of the front wing in his car.
By the end of the session, the top 10 was: Verstappen, Bottas, Norris, Hamilton, Leclerc, Perez, Gasly, Sainz, Ricciardo and Giovinazzi. There were no incidents during the FP1.
Although the session has been nowhere near representative of what the season will look like, it definitely raised questions about certain drivers, teams and performances. Will the 2021 season be even more interesting than the interesting 2020 one? The second practice session at the Sakhir International Circuit will commence at 3PM GMT. F1 is fully back on track.