The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Lewis Hamilton led the way in practice on Friday ahead of Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International circuit. The seven time champion set a fastest time of 01:28.971s and speaking following the action he said:
t felt great to get back out on the track, I just love driving this car. Today felt a bit more like a test day though as we didn’t get to do a lot of qualifying style laps, instead it was a lot of discovery on next year’s tyres. This track works the tyres completely differently compared to the last race in Turkey, it’s a night and day difference. Instead of doing a fast outlap to get temperatures into the tyres, you’re trying to go slow on the outlap to not put too much temperatures into them and keep them from overheating. I wasn’t particularly happy with the balance of the car, but everyone is probably in a similar position as the track was quite slippery and dusty. We definitely got some work overnight to try and improve ahead of tomorrow.
Valtteri Bottas was third fastest following the action and speaking following the action he said:
Our day was overall ok, looking at our performance and the general feeling in the car. It was more challenging in the first session and I expect it’ll be the same tomorrow because the track temperatures are higher at that time and there’s more wind as well. Both sessions were slightly messy with traffic and a few mistakes here and there, so there’s certainly more to come. I’m also not fully happy with the balance yet, we’ve got some work to do there. It’s tricky to say where we are competitively as we ran a different programme to everyone else, focusing on the new Pirelli tyres. I think Red Bull are certainly up there, they looked pretty good in FP2. The main challenge in Bahrain is always overheating of the tyres, something we haven’t had for a few races, so we need to adapt our different driving style accordingly. So lots of things to learn for tomorrow from today
Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team chief engineer Andrew Shovlin commented saying:
We had decided to focus more on the 2021 tyre evaluation than the usual race weekend preparation today. We’ve not yet had time to go through the data, but we’ve managed to do what we had planned, so hopefully that will give us some useful learning ahead of next season. In contrast, we’re a bit behind compared to where we’d normally like to be regarding the race on Sunday, in part because we’ve not spent as long as normal tuning the car balance, but also because we’ve not done as extensive a long run programme as is normal. We’ve definitely got more to come both on single lap and on the long run as we are not in a great place with the car balance yet, but we’ve still got a bit of track time tomorrow to work on that.