Formula One news - Max Verstappen fastest in first Bahrain GP practice
Max Verstappen set the pace in the first practice session of the Formula One season in Bahrain on Friday as his Red Bull team immediately lived up to expectations that have soared since testing. Valtteri Bottas, who has won the opening race of the championship for the past two years, was 0.298 slower for champions Mercedes.
Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 26, 2021 in Bahrain
McLaren's Lando Norris was third fastest, with a car now powered by a Mercedes engine after the switch from Renault, with seven times world champion and fellow Briton Lewis Hamilton fourth for Mercedes, 0.527 off Verstappen.
Norris had gone top with 27 minutes to go before Bottas went faster and then Verstappen, who reeled off a string of fastest sectors in the closing minutes.
Friday's two practice sessions are now each one hour long, rather than the previous 90 minutes, in a change for 2021.
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was fifth on the timesheets with Mexican Sergio Perez, Verstappen's new team mate, sixth and Pierre Gasly seventh for AlphaTauri.
Carlos Sainz, switching from McLaren to Ferrari, was eighth with Australian Daniel Ricciardo, taking Sainz's place at McLaren, ninth.
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