Bahrain GP: Gasly opens new F1 era at the top of the timesheets | Racing News

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MANAMA: Pierre Gasly began Formula One‘s new era with the fastest time for AlphaTauri in Friday’s first practice session for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Frenchman lapped the 5.4-km Sakhir desert track in one minute, 34.193 seconds on a sunny but cool afternoon.
Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were second and third, the Italian team continuing to back up the hype that has them marked out as one of the favourites.
George Russell led Mercedes’ charge in fourth with Lewis Hamilton seventh as the reigning champions, who struggled to dial their car into the Sakhir track during last week’s pre-season test, made a low-key start to their bid to secure a ninth-straight constructors title.
Reigning world champion Max Verstappen, who ended last week’s test with the fastest time, was fifth for Red Bull.
Friday afternoon’s running was not representative of the conditions drivers will face in Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race, which are scheduled to be floodlit dusk-to-night sessions.
Teams are also still coming to terms with the most radical rules overhaul in decades, featuring cars that have been drastically redesigned in a bid to improve the racing spectacle.
Canadian Lance Stroll was sixth for Aston Martin with Spanish double world champion Fernando Alonso eighth for Alpine.
Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda was ninth for AlphaTauri with Sergio Perez rounding out the top-10 for Red Bull.
Nico Hulkenberg, standing in for Sebastian Vettel, who has tested positive for COVID-19, was 14th.
F1 returnee Kevin Magnussen, replacing sacked Russian Nikita Mazepin, was 19th for Haas.
Valtteri Bottas did not set a time in his first practice session as an Alfa Romeo driver. The former Mercedes racer’s engine was reported to be misfiring.
Friday afternoon’s session was largely uneventful but for one red flag stoppage. The halt was caused by the sidepod cover on Esteban Ocon’s Alpine coming loose and leaving debris across the track.
The French manufacturer said they were investigating the incident.



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