Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in the first free practice for the Bahrain GP, where he was faster than his teammate Valtteri Bottas, and Sergio Perez was the third fastest for Racing Point. Although the conditions in the first free practice, which started during the day and ended at dusk, are not representative of the qualifiers and race in the evening, drivers and teams took advantage of the first training to test tires, test new parts and work on car settings.
Pirelli brought a new prototype of tires for 2021 that drivers had the opportunity to try out, which did not have side markings like the usual tires (C2, C3 and C4 this weekend). Hamilton was 1.2 seconds slower than last year’s pole position won by Leclerc, and was 0.449 s faster than Bottas on medium tires.
Mercedes drivers also drove the most laps of all drivers - Hamilton 40, and Bottas 41
Perez was very fast for Racing Point in third place with 0.967 from behind, and fourth-ranked Sainz in McLaren was the last driver to be less than a second behind the fastest Hamilton, 0.018 s behind Perez.
Gasly was temporarily the fastest before being taken off the top by Mercedes drivers and later by Perez and Sainz, but the Frenchman finished in fifth place for AlphaTauri ahead of two Red Bull drivers Verstappen and Albon.
Verstappen drove only 18 laps, the least of all drivers, and was 0.008 s faster than Albon, and Red Bull drivers were focused on longer sections with Albon driving mostly on hard tires, as many as five sections. Ocon was eighth fastest for Renault, a tenth ahead of Ricciard in tenth place, and Stroll split Renault drivers in ninth place for Racing Point.
Ferrari took 11th and 12th place with Leclerc and Vettel driving their best times in the last half hour on soft tires, and Leclerc flew wide in his first fast lap as he was bothered by Gasly in AlphaTauri. Kubica drove the first practice for Alfa Romeo instead of Raikkonen and finished 13th fastest, 0.164 s ahead of Giovinazzi in 16th place, and between them were drivers Haasa Grosjean and Magnussen who both passed in Q3 on this track last year.
Kvyat was only 17th fastest for AlphaTauri ahead of Norris in McLaren and two Williams drivers, and Nissany drove the first practice instead of Russell and finished last, three tenths behind Latifi. The second free practice starts at 16:00.