Mercedes’ George Russell was fastest in F1 Sakhir GP FP1 from Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon.
The F1 Sakhir GP FP1 had some newness for the weekend, despite both the titles being done, as Mercedes had George Russell roped in due to a COVID-19 positive result for Lewis Hamilton. His move meant Jack Aitken got the chance for his debut with Williams.
Also, Pietro Fittipaldi replaced injured Romain Grosjean at Haas, to make it three drivers in new environment. The circuit layout as well, was new for the F1 drivers, which made it tricky for everyone as learning was the major requirement in the session.
Fittipaldi did well but had a lock-up to destroy his tyre set, while Aitken had an off early on as well. There was a spin for Red Bull’s Alexander Albon too, as he almost saved himself from hitting the barriers. Most ended their session early, strangely.
At the front, though, it was Mercedes’ new driver Russell (54.546s), who for the first time led a practice session ahead of Red Bull duo Max Verstappen (54.722s) and Albon (54.811s) – all having set their best on the soft tyres.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas (54.868s) was only fourth as the Finn had some troubled run on all of his fast laps. He led AlphaTauri duo of Daniil Kvyat (55.011s) and Pierre Gasly (55.166s), who looked solid. The Frenchman had a broken mirror early on.
Renault’s Esteban Ocon (55.273s) slotted in seventh ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel (55.281s), as their teammates Daniel Ricciardo (55.379s) and Charles Leclerc (55.449s) rounded out the F1 Sakhir GP Top 10 in the first practice session.
Just outside was Racing Point’s Lance Stroll (55.558s), who led teammate Sergio Perez (55.716s), where the Mexican had an old engine and floor on his car after Bahrain GP’s retirement. He also had a moment with McLaren’s Lando Norris late in the FP1.
He (56.078s) could only manage 16th whereas teammate Carlos Sainz (55.757s) was 13th after having some body damage. The two Alfa Romeo Racing drivers Kimi Raikkonen (55.783s) and Antonio Giovinazzi (55.858s) slotted in 14th and 15th respectively.
The two Haas and Williams drivers followed with Kevin Magnussen (56.130s) ahead of Nicholas Latifi (56.764s), Fittipaldi (57.077s) and Aitken (57.187s) – where the latter duo managed 24 and 33 laps. Also Latifi set his best on medium and Aitken on the hard tyres.
Ferrari’s Simone Resta moves to Haas:
As part of the ongoing changes within Ferrari, the Italian manufacturer announced that its current chassis head Simone Resta will leave the team to join Haas from January 1, 2021, onward, with Enrico Cardile taking over his position.
Resta will switch to Haas – where Ferrari junior Mick Schumacher will be driving – as part of a technical shuffle and perhaps a bid to strengthen the relation between the two F1 teams. Enrico Gualtieri will continue to head Ferrari’s power unit division and Sporting Director Laurent Mekies will stick to his track activities head role.
“The structure of Scuderia Ferrari evolves rapidly, staying ahead of the game,” said Mattia Binotto. “As from 2021, with the introduction of new regulations, all of us will be facing new challenges that we must tackle with pragmatism and an open mind, which is in fact what we started to do with the organisational changes announced a few months ago.
“It is why we believe that our long-term relationship with Haas, dating back to when it first came into Formula 1, should be the basis for both parties to benefit from any possible synergy, consistent with what is defined in the FIA regulations. With that idea in mind, we are pleased to announce that the highly rated Simone Resta will move to strengthen the American team’s technical department as from the start of next year.
“This is a further step in the process of continuous evolution of the team’s technical department. Simone, whom we thank for his efforts to date, will have an important role within a team that has reaffirmed its long-term commitment to Formula 1.
“It has just strengthened an already very close relationship with the Scuderia by taking on Ferrari Driver Academy driver Mick Schumacher. Within the Scuderia, Enrico Cardile will now be tasked with coordinating the technical and human resources directly linked to performance development and the design of the car.”
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