Two weeks after being crowned Formula 1 World Champion for a seventh time, Lewis Hamilton continued the momentum into the first day of free practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, Round 15 of the championship.
Hamilton, clearly not taking his foot off the gas, topped the timing screens at the end of Bahrain FP1 with a best lap of 1.29.033, four-tenths up on Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in second.
It was a change of gameplan for the World Champ who traditionally keeps his powder dry on day one of a Grand Prix weekend, particularly FP1 a session he seldom tops.
Nevertheless, Hamilton was on it, suggesting he wants to add to his incredible record of 94 F1 victories this Sunday with the rest chasing already.
The Mercedes pair each pounded out 10 or so more laps than their rivals during the 90-minutes. The black cars looking unstoppable and things have yet to get going.
In third, soon to be out of work, Sergio Perez made it a trio of Merc-powered cars at the top of the timesheets of Bahrain FP1, suggesting the Pink cars may be in the mix for a podium again, albeit a second slower than the works boys.
However, Unlike his teammate, Lance Stroll did not manage to find the sweetspot in the sister car. He was ninth fastest, 0.426s down on his teammate in a midfield that is covered by less than half a second.
Renault’s best was Carlos Sainz, the McLaren driver showing handy pace at their other “home” race while Lando Norris was slower getting to grips by four-tenths to his teammate.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, in fifth, was fastest of the Honda brigade. Notably, a mere 0.048s separated fourth, fifth and sixth on the timing screens.
A quarter second shy of the trio, in sixth, was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen followed closely by Alex Albon in seventh. The Dutchman among several high profile spinners on the day.
Esteban Ocon was eighth, a couple of tenths up on Renault teammate Daniel Ricciardo in tenth.
Ferrari struggled again, with Charles Leclerc only good for eleventh, half a tenth up on Sebastian Vettel in the other Red car, 12th when the chequered waved to end it.
At Alfa Romeo, Robert Kubica was on FP1 duty in place of Kimi Raikkonen, the Pole ending the session 13th, three tenths up on Antonio Giovinazzi in the other White car.
Slowest of all was Israeli driver Roy Nissany, on duty for Williams while George Russell sat it out. Nicholas Latifi was thus faster of the pair but still well over three seconds off the pace.