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Hamilton in a class of his own in Bahrain GP FP1, spearheads Mercedes one-two

Hamilton in a class of his own in Bahrain GP FP1, spearheads Mercedes one-two

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Hamilton in a class of his own in Bahrain GP FP1, spearheads Mercedes one-two

Hamilton in a class of his own in Bahrain GP FP1, spearheads Mercedes one-two

Newly crowned seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton underlined there will be no let up this season as he finished quickest in first practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

On occasion in the past, after winning a title with races to spare, Hamilton has eased off the gas in 'dead rubber' grands prix.

But around Bahain's International Circuit, Hamilton was in a class of his own as the Mercedes driver finished almost half-a-second clear of team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton and Bottas completed more laps than any other drivers - clocking 40 and 41 respectively - with the Briton's best a one minute 29.033secs, with the Finn 0.449s adrift.

In comparison, the quickest time in first practice for the Bahrain GP in April last year was 1:30.354s posted by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

As for the rest of the field, the gap between Bottas and Racing Point's Sergio Perez at the head of it was equally as yawning, with the Mexican a full half-a-second off the pace, followed closely by McLaren's Carlos Sainz.

Naturally, with FP1 run in late mid-afternoon daylight, the conditions are often viewed as not being representative of what transpires for qualifying and the race which both begin in twilight and fades into evening.

There was also the added element of Pirelli running the final rule over its specification of tyres for next season, with all drivers putting in a handful of laps at various stages.

But even at this early stage, it is hard to believe the race will not be another duel between Hamilton and Bottas for front-row and race honours.

It is the fight for third in the constructors' championship that is instead garnering most interest, with Racing Point a handful of points ahead of McLaren, with Renault and now Ferrari also in the fray.

In terms of Perez's and Sainz's team-mates, Lance Stroll and Lando Norris were ninth and 18th respectively, with the latter 2.359s adrift of Hamilton.

AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly finished fifth on the timesheet ahead of Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Alex Albon, both 1.2s down and separated by just eight-thousandths of a second.

Renault pair Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo then sandwiched Stroll in eighth and 10th respectively, with the latter 1.475s adrift.

As for Ferrari, Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, fresh from his first podium for a year after finishing third in the last race in Turkey, were 11th and 12th respectively, both around 1.5s behind Hamilton.

Robert Kubica, replacing Kimi Raikkonen in FP1 for Alfa Romeo, was a respectable 13th, a tenth of a second down on Vettel.

Williams duo Nicholas Latifi and Roy Nissany, in for George Russell, brought up the rear, with the latter 3.768s down, and a third of a second behind the Canadian.

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