Sakhir GP: Russell immediately fastest for Mercedes in Practice 1

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

George Russell wasted little time in making his mark at Mercedes by topping the times in Practice 1 at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

The Briton, standing in for Lewis Hamilton after his positive Covid-19 test, made a steady start as expected but upped the pace on his second set of tyres to lead the pack.

As Formula 1 used Bahrain's 'Outer Circuit' for the first time, immediately the record for the quickest ever lap in terms of time was broken with Carlos Sainz setting a 56.6s, two seconds faster than Niki Lauda at Dijon in 1974.

By the end of the 90 minutes, Russell had reduced that time to a 54.546s.

The new section of track also proved quite a challenge for drivers, with the bumpy surface and kerbs making it tough to avoid running wide on the exit of the Turn 7 & 8 chicane.

At this point, its unknown if track limits will be enforced but it would certainly add another element to a layout where nailing every corner is crucial.

And it was that which Russell did best on his fastest lap to lead Max Verstappen by 0.176s. 

As predicted the very short lap made for very close times, and Alex Albon, despite a spin, proved this as he was within a tenth of his teammate in third.

Bottas' problem was putting a strong lap together as traffic and small errors left him three-tenths behind Russell in fourth.

AlphaTauri were quick out the gates with Daniil Kvyat fifth and Pierre Gasly sixth as the led the midfield group.

Renault too typically go well on lower downforce tracks, so it was no surprise to see Esteban Ocon seventh and Daniel Ricciardo ninth.

On the contrary, Ferrari had both cars in the top 10 in eighth and 10th with Sebastian Vettel ahead of Charles Leclerc.

The Monegasque did have a small setback with an off at Turn 5 but was able to recover and resume.


Racing Point and McLaren had a steady start to the weekend as they continued their battle for third in the Constructors' standings.

Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez sat 11th and 12th, while Carlos Sainz was 13th and Lando Norris 16th for the Woking-based team.

At the back, the new drivers for this weekend, perhaps unsurprisingly Pietro Fittipaldi and Jack Aitken brought up the field with a tenth of a second between them.

Full results from Practice 1 can be seen below: