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Bahrain Grand Prix 2023

Hamilton top with Bahrain qualifying picture muddled after FP2

Hamilton led teammate George Russell as Mercedes threw down a marker ahead of the first qualifying of the season.

Hamilton Bahrain
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Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes one-two in second practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix to blow qualifying for the F1 season opener wide open.

The seven-time World Champion set a best lap time of a 1:30.374, finishing 0.206 secs faster than teammate George Russell.

Fernando Alonso was third for Aston Martin and whilst fuel loads can skew the picture in practice, Max Verstappen finishing only sixth fastest means plenty of questions remain unanswered going into the first qualifying session of the year.

Result Free practice 2 - Bahrain

# Driver Team Time Tyre
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Hamilton on top

Hamilton was fastest at the end of both qualifying simulation runs to put himself in great shape ahead of qualifying on Friday.

Russell looked as though he was struggling more than his teammate but, after changes to the front end of his W15, the Briton slotted himself in behind Hamilton.

Alonso's pace was strong enough to beat Carlos Sainz, who gave Ferrari the most representative lap time after teammate Charles Leclerc, who finished ninth fastest, encountered traffic on one lap and a lock-up on another into Turn 4 - ranting over team radio that his rivals were "sleeping".

There was a similar split in fortunes at McLaren: Oscar Piastri finished within half a second of Hamilton's best effort. Lando Norris, meanwhile, made a mistake in the final sector during his run and wound up slowest of all.

Is Red Bull in trouble?

Verstappen's best time was good enough only to be 0.477s down on Hamilton, despite the widely-held belief that the Red Bull RB20 would be all-dominant.

Whilst that may still be the case come qualifying, the straight-line speeds of the two cars were similar, so any sandbagging by Red Bull will have come through the corners.

The race runs, however, did look incredibly strong for both Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez - both consistently in the 1:36s.

Nico Hulkenberg continued his fine one-lap form from last year with the seventh-best time for Haas, finishing faster than Lance Stroll whilst Perez slotted behind Leclerc to round out the top 10.

Alex Albon was 11th fastest and the last driver within a second of Hamilton for Williams, marginally ahead of Daniel Ricciardo's RB, which had finished fastest in FP1.

Logan Sargeant and Kevin Magnussen followed, with Yuki Tsunoda 15th. Pierre Gasly was ahead of Stake F1's Valtteri Bottas, who faces a trip to the stewards after passing the pit-exit red light at the start of the session.

The second Alpine of Esteban Ocon was 18th, Zhou Guanyu 19th and Norris 20th.

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