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Formula 1

Surprise Mercedes 1-2 ends Bahrain GP practice day

by Jack Cozens
3 min read

Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes 1-2 in second practice for the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix as reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen ended up almost half a second off the pace and outside the top five again.

Temperatures were unsurprisingly cooler in FP2, held in more representative conditions for qualifying on Friday and the race on Saturday, than they were in first practice - but an air temperature of 17°C and a track figure of 22°C were lower than normal.

That perhaps accounted for some of the difference between the pacesetting Mercedes - tyre warm-up was one of its strengths in 2023 - and the Red Bull - which struggled with warm-up last year - but Hamilton was nevertheless fastest by a convincing margin on both of his qualifying simulation runs.

Bahrain GP F1 practice results

His ultimate fastest time of 1m30.174s gave him a two-tenth margin over team-mate George Russell, who had been a second off after the first runs.

Fernando Alonso, who was Hamilton's nearest challenger on the first runs, ended up 0.286s off in third. The Aston Martin driver lost 0.215s in the first sector on his lap, which did not include a personal best in the final sector either.

Carlos Sainz was the fastest of the Ferrari drivers in fourth, nearly four tenths down, with Oscar Piastri fifth for McLaren.

Verstappen was around half a second off on his first soft-tyre attempt and ended up 0.477s back after his second, though the long-run simulations - which all teams conducted on softs - looked considerably more promising for him and Red Bull.

Long-tyre runs (all C3 soft tyre)

First five laps

Hamilton: 1m37.419s; 1m37.016s; 1m36.669s; 1m36.875s; 1m36.866s

Russell: 1m36.805s; 1m36.805s; 1m36.860s; 1m36.678s; 1m36.983s

Alonso: 1m36.870s; 1m36.865s; 1m36.837s; 1m37.175s; 1m37.216s;

Sainz: 1m37.354s; 1m36.749s; 1m36.949s; 1m37.174s; 1m37.283s*

Piastri: 1m36.374s; 1m36.187s; 1m36.347s; 1m37.421s; 1m36.527s

Verstappen: 1m37.007s; 1m36.714s; 1m36.527s; 1m36.499s; 1m36.632s

Leclerc: 1m37.297s; 1m37.257s; 1m36.636s; 1m36.629s; 1m37.062s**

Perez: 1m35.946s; 1m36.012s; 1m36.411s; 1m36.966s; 1m36.887s

*1m41.842s outlier on fifth lap removed
**1m40.948s outlier on fifth lap removed

Sergio Perez started those long runs fastest of all, but Piastri's soft-tyre run in the McLaren was eye-catching too.

He, team-mate Lando Norris - who ended FP2 slowest of all and six tenths adrift, on account of an error exiting the final corner on his second qualifying simulation - and Perez were the first to head out on their long runs before the track became busier, while the McLarens were also the only two to try the medium tyre for a short spell before the end of the session.

Perez, by contrast, extended his run on softs to 17 laps - four longer than Piastri managed before swapping to mediums.

Over a single lap, Nico Hulkenberg was a strong seventh for a Haas team that had barely shown its one-lap hand prior to FP2, as it spent the majority of pre-season testing and FP1 focusing on long runs.

His time, a 1m30.884s that left him half a second down on Hamilton's benchmark, was almost nine tenths faster than team-mate Kevin Magnussen's time - although Magnussen had been the faster of the two on their first attempts at the start of the session.

Lance Stroll made it two Aston Martins inside the top eight and was within a quarter of a second of team-mate Alonso, with Charles Leclerc - particularly vocal over the team radio about other drivers' lack of awareness - ninth and the second Red Bull of Perez rounding out the top 10.

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