*** ----> Hamilton fastest on opening day of F1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2024 | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Hamilton fastest on opening day of F1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2024

TDT | Manama                                                          

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Seven-time Formula 1 drivers’ world champion Lewis Hamilton set the quickest overall time of the day yesterday following the first two Formula 1 practices of the F1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2024 at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir.

Hamilton led Mercedes teammate George Russell to the top of the timesheet in last night’s hour-long second practice session, held under lights in cool evening conditions as the opening day of the Kingdom’s 20th anniversary F1 weekend wrapped up at “The Home of Motorsport in the Middle East”.

Hamilton clocked a fastest lap of one minute 30.374 seconds while completing 25 laps of running. His best was nearly two-and-a-half clicks quicker than the pace-setting time of Daniel Ricciardo of RB in the first practice held earlier in the day.

“It was very windy in FP1, and the track was very different during the test,” Hamilton said at the end of yesterday’s running, making a reference to F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain last week. “We didn’t know exactly where we would stack up against everyone else, but we had a positive FP2 session. 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. It’s a really good platform for us to build from. We just need to keep our heads down and keep chasing.”

Teammate Russell added: “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.


“Nevertheless, we’re pleased with how our day has gone; the car is performing well. We will sit down and understand where the main improvements came from and try to sustain that. We want to be fighting for good positions on Saturday night.”

Russell was 0.206 seconds behind, while Fernando Alonso followed in third for Aston Martin 0.286s back. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was fourth on the practice two classification 0.395s adrift, and Oscar Piastri put McLaren in fifth 0.410s from the leader.

Reigning drivers’ world champion Max Verstappen was sixth for Red Bull 0.477s slower than Hamilton’s top mark, while Nico Hulkenberg had a solid session for Haas to rank seventh 0.510s adrift. Lance Stroll was eighth in the other Aston Martin 0.517s from first place, while Charles Leclerc (0.739s) for Ferrari and Sergio Perez (+0.741s) of Red Bull completed the top 10.

Eleventh through 20th in the second practice were Alexander Albon of Williams, Ricciardo, Logan Sargeant of Williams, Kevin Magnussen of Haas, Yuki Tsunoda of RB, Pierre Gasly of Alpine, Valtteri Bottas of Kick Sauber, Esteban Ocon of Alpine, Zhou Guanyu of Kick Sauber, and Lando Norris of McLaren.

The F1 field returns for a third practice session today at 1.15pm, which will be followed by the first qualifying of the F1 season at 7pm. Earlier in the day yesterday, Ricciardo kicked off the new F1 season by topping the first practice timesheet. Ricciardo steered his RB contender to a fastest lap of 1:32.869 while completing 23 laps in sunny conditions. He was followed on the times by Norris, who was a mere 0.032 seconds off the pace, and Piastri, 0.244s adrift.

Tsunoda put both RB cars in the top four, trailing Ricciardo by just 0.314s. Alonso fifth 0.324s back, Verstappen sixth 0.369s from the summit, while Russell and Leclerc were seventh and eighth, going 0.382s and 0.399s slower, respectively. Hamilton (+0.433s) and Bottas (+0.485s) rounded off the top 10. Completing the first practice’s classification were Sainz, Perez, Albon, Stroll, Zhou, Sargeant, Ocon, Gasly, Magnussen and Hulkenberg.


Fernando Alonso in action for Aston Martin during the first practice


Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes contender during last night’s second F1 practice


RB drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda participate in their live, on-stage interviews in front of fans yesterday


Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in the team’s garage yesterday