Bahrain Preview Post Practice

Latest Bahrain Preview

By: Kieran McGinley

The first Free Practice sessions have been completed, so it’s time to see how things are shaping up for the opening round of the season in Bahrain.

FP1

Pierre Gasly in the Alpha Tauri set the fastest time with a 1:34.193, as Ferrari duo Leclerc and Sainz completed the top three.

Ocon triggered an early red flag after his left-hand side pod failed dramatically, showering the start/finish straight with debris.

It was a difficult session for Bottas as he returned to the pits after reporting a misfire on his installation lap. He did manage to re-emerge later in the session, only to head straight back to the garage. 

We also got our first glimpses of rookie Guanyu Zhou, who went eleventh fastest with a 1:35.053; a mere three thousandths behind Sergio Pérez. 

We also saw the returns of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg. With minimal experience in these cars, they would have relished a chance to get some mileage under their belts.

Daniel Ricciardo took the wheel of his McLaren for the first time since he tested positive for Covid-19, which caused him to miss out on his role at the Bahrain pre-season test.

FP2

In a session that had closer conditions to what we’ll see in Qualifying and the Race, Max Verstappen was eager to pick up where he left off last season. He topped the session with 1:31.936. Once again, the two Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz rounded off the top 3.

Both of the Williams finished bottom of the table, not recreating their mid-table times in FP1. It’s a cause for concern to be bottom of the table in conditions that will more reflect the race.

Hamilton struggled with the Porpoising Mercedes and finished behind his teammate Russell in both sessions. We’re used to a Mercedes sandbag, but this issue seems to cause genuine concern. How quickly can they get on top of this?

Battle in Bahrain

As always with Free Practice, it’s still not easy to tell who ranks where. I’ll certainly give it a go though.

Verstappen and Red Bull seem to be a perfect combination, but look out for the two Ferraris who will be keen to make it difficult for the reigning champion.

Mercedes look vulnerable and could struggle in their one-lap pace. They’ll be hoping they can recover some valuable points in the race while they simultaneously troubleshoot their machine.

Haas could be dark horses, as they look to make dividends on writing off development on their 2021 car to focus on the new regulations. With Magnussen making his return at short notice, how quickly can he get to grips with the new car?

Alfa Romeo has had a bumpy start to the season, but they’ll be looking to put that behind them and back their drivers to be picking up the pieces and some very valuable points along the way, so long as they have the reliability. 

It’s going to be a heck of a battle for some points, with multiple teams being very similar in pace. Points positions will be decided on a strategy and driver talent, so grab that popcorn while you can!

Kieran’s Crystal Gazing:

Qualifying:

Verstappen

Leclerc

Sainz

Race:

Verstappen

Leclerc

Russell

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