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Hamilton dominant in Bahrain as Albon crash and stray dog cause two red flags

Hamilton dominant in Bahrain as Albon crash and stray dog cause two red flags

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Hamilton dominant in Bahrain as Albon crash and stray dog cause two red flags

Hamilton dominant in Bahrain as Albon crash and stray dog cause two red flags

Lewis Hamilton continued his domination of practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix even though the second session was interrupted by two red flags.

Under the floodlights at the Bahrain International Circuit, FP2 was more representative of conditions for qualifying and the race in comparison to the daylight-running in FP1 when Hamilton was head and shoulders above his rivals.

The newly crowned seven-time champion was again comfortably clear in FP2, deposing Red Bull's Max Verstappen by 0.347secs during the low-fuel, soft-compound qualifying simulation runs.

Hamilton posted a time of one minute 28.971s to knock Verstappen off top spot with 12 minutes remaining, with the Red Bull driver just 0.018s ahead of the Briton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Verstappen was the only driver in the top eight whose best time was set on the medium compound compared to the soft-tyre runners around him.

It was Verstappen's team-mate Alex Albon, however, that caused one of the red flags as midway through the session he was involved in a heavy smash that will not have done his prospects any good of retaining his seat for next season.

Albon did nothing more than run wide through the last corner, but on the dusty exit, his application of the brake forced him into a slide he tried to catch but which spun around sharply, sending the right side of his car slamming into a wall and causing considerable damage.

Other than dented pride, Albon emerged unscathed, issuing an immediately sheepish apology, and leaving his team with a long night of repairs.

The crash resulted in a 12-minute hiatus, but no sooner had the pitlane reopened and the first few cars had returned to the track than FIA race director and safety delegate Michael Masi was forced to issue a second red flag as a dog had found its way onto the circuit.

Mercifully, the pooch managed to find another gap in the barriers to escape, but it led to another five-minute delay and 17 minutes lost overall, disrupting the drivers' plans for the low-fuel runs.

Racing Point's Sergio Perez was best of the rest behind the trio that has dominated F1 this season, with the Mexican 0.432s behind Hamilton, followed by Renault's Daniel Ricciardo and AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly.

McLaren's Lando Norris was seventh quickest, albeit three-tenths of a second behind Gasly, with the second Racing Point of Lance Stroll in close attendance along with Daniil Kvyat in his AlphaTauri. The top nine were all covered by a second.

Albon made the top 10, a second down, followed by Renault's Esteban Ocon, with Ferrari pair Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc then sandwiching Carlos Sainz in his McLaren. Leclerc was 1.436s off the pace.

Williams' George Russell, who sat out FP1 for to offer reserve Roy Nissany a fourth practice session this season, propped up the standings, finishing 2.665s behind Hamilton.

As in FP1, throughout the second session the drivers ran the rule over Pirelli's 2021-specification tyres in amongst conducting long runs and qualifying simulations.

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