A MASSIVE crash, a dog on the track and Lewis Hamilton’s track dominance stole the show during last night Formula 1 free practice sessions at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC)in Sakhir.
During the first round of practice at 2pm yesterday, things seemed humdrum on a track that had dried out despite overnight rainfall.
World champion Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Valterri Bottas finished at the top of the time sheet, followed by Racing Point’s Sergio Perez,
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, the Red Bull Racing pair of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon, and Renault’s Esteban Ocon.
Hamilton set the fastest lap time of one minute 29.033 seconds, 0.449 seconds ahead of Bottas.
“It’s nice to be back in more normal conditions compared to Istanbul two weeks ago,” Gasly said.
“We had a positive Friday, probably one of our strongest this season and the car felt good straightaway since FP1.
“I think pace-wise we look pretty competitive, but there are still some things we can improve on in terms of car balance to extract even more from the package we have.
“It looks promising, so we’ll try to find these extra tenths for qualifying tomorrow.”
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Things got much more exciting during FP2, when the roars of engines, felt across Sakhir, were stifled for a few minutes when a dog was spotted on the track, seemingly trying to catch up with the F1 cars.
It took a few milliseconds for the drivers to recover from the shock before Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was heard singing, “Who let the dogs out?” echoing the eponymous Grammy-award winning song by Baha Men.
When Hamilton was informed of the dog, he quipped, “Hope it’s not Roscoe,” referring to his beloved bulldog, who joined him for the track walk on Thursday.
No dogs were hurt in the making of these jokes.
This was the second race weekend in a row to feature overexcited canine spectators, after a dog was seen running on the track in Turkey as well.
Midway through the session, Albon suffered a massive crash on the final corner of the lap and the red flag came out halting the action.
Albon was unhurt but his car was seemingly wrecked.
“Albon lost control of his car on the last corner, spun and hit the barrier, causing significant damage to his challenger,” the BIC said in a statement.
“He was able to step out of the cockpit without assistance and was taken for some medical checks by race officials.”
When action resumed, Hamilton beat his own fastest time in FP1, clocking a top lap time of one minute 28.971 seconds.
Verstappen, who had been leading the race before Albon’s crash, ended up putting up the second fastest time on the sheet, 0.347 seconds behind Hamilton.
Rounding out the top eight in F1’s practice two were Bottas, Perez, Daniel Ricciardo of Renault, Gasly, Lando Norris of Mclaren and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll.
A third F1 practice will take place today (Nov 28) at 2pm, to be followed by qualifying at 5pm.
The Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2020 is due to kick off tomorrow at 5.10pm.
Meanwhile, in the F2 qualifying race, Uni-Virtuosi’s Callum Ilott captured pole position yesterday for today’s F2 feature race.
MP Motorsport’s Felipe Drugovich and Dams’ Dan Ticktum followed him, and will start in P2 and P3 this afternoon.
Today’s F2 Feature Race will consist of 32 laps and is scheduled for a 12.20pm start.
In the Porsche Sprint Challenge Middle East, the first practice was led by German racer Richard Wagner and the second practice was led by Jaxon Evans.
In the first practice, Bahrain’s Shaikh Ali bin Mohammed Al Khalifa and Shaikh Jaber bin Ali Al Khalifa were eighth and 10th, respectively.
Shaikh Ali had a fastest lap of 2:08.838 competing in the Pro-Am category, while Shaikh Jaber registered a top lap of 2:09.693.
In the second practice, Bahrain’s Shaikh Ali and Shaikh Jaber were ninth and 10th, respectively.
Today, a qualifying session will take place at 11am, followed by the first 12-lap race at 3.50pm. The second race is scheduled for tomorrow.