Sakhir (Bahrain) (AFP)

Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull) set the fastest time in the first free practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix, the inaugural round of the Formula 1 World Championship, on Friday at the Sakhir circuit (5.412 km).

Winner of the last GP of 2020 in Abu Dhabi and 3rd in the last championship, Verstappen has started 2021 perfectly. Like the pre-season tests on this same Sakhir circuit two weeks ago, he took the best time of the first free practice session before the race on Sunday.

In 1 min 31 sec 394 / 1000th, he beat the Finnish Mercedes Valterri Bottas, vice-world champion, by 298 / 1000th, and the Briton McLaren Lando Norris by 503 / 1000th.

The seven-time world champion and favorite to his succession Lewis Hamilton, a time ahead in the heat of Bahrain (36 ° C), took the fourth fastest time at 527 / 1000th.

It's anything but a surprise to find Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren at the forefront, the three teams having finished in the first three places last year.

Ferrari, 6th manufacturer in 2020, is hoping for the best this season.

Its pilots Charles Leclerc are placed in 5th and 8th fastest time in FP1 less than a second.

The French Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) and Esteban Ocon (Alpine) took the 7th and 15th fastest times.

But Alpine, who this year welcomes Fernando Alonso (16th time), back at 39, said she was trying new parts for this first session, without looking for performance.

Mick Schumacher, son of Michael, took the penultimate time for his first session as an official driver in F1.

At Haas, he can't hope for much better this season.

In 2021, the first two free practice sessions on Friday last only one hour, like the third organized on the Saturday before qualifying.

Friday, the second session is scheduled from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. local (4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. French, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. GMT).

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1st free practice session:

Max Verstappen (NED / Red Bull-Honda) 1: 31.394 (12 laps)

Valtteri Bottas (FIN / Mercedes) 1: 31.692 (17)

Lando Norris (GBR / McLaren-Mercedes) 1: 31.897 (20)

Lewis Hamilton (GBR / Mercedes) 1: 31.921 (15)

Charles Leclerc (MON / Ferrari) 1: 31.993 (14)

Sergio Pérez (MEX / Red Bull-Honda) 1: 32.071 (15)

Pierre Gasly (FRA / AlphaTauri-Honda) 1: 32.195 (23)

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP / Ferrari) 1: 32.366 (15)

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS / McLaren-Mercedes) 1: 32.434 (20)

Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA / Alfa Romeo-Ferrari) 1: 32.786 (16)

Kimi Räikkönen (FIN / Alfa Romeo-Ferrari) 1: 33.134 (18)

Sebastian Vettel (GER / Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1: 33.157 (21)

Lance Stroll (CAN / Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1: 33.233 (20)

Yuki Tsunoda (JPN / AlphaTauri-Honda) 1: 33.329 (21)

Esteban Ocon (FRA / Alpine-Renault) 1: 33.528 (20)

Fernando Alonso (ESP / Alpine-Renault) 1: 33.872 (18)

George Russell (GBR / Williams-Mercedes) 1: 34.127 (22)

Nicholas Latifi (CAN / Williams-Mercedes) 1: 34.340 (22)

Mick Schumacher (GER / Haas-Ferrari) 1: 34.501 (16)

Nikita Mazepin (RUS / Haas-Ferrari) 1: 34.975 (16)

© 2021 AFP

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