Max Verstappen was fastest in practice for Formula One’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday as his Red Bull team immediately lived up to expectations that have soared since testing.
The Dutch youngster, who also topped the timesheets two weeks ago at the same Sakhir circuit with a Honda-powered car that looked stable and quick, set a best time of one minute 31.394 seconds in the afternoon and 1:30.847 in the evening.
Four teams — Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari — were within four tenths of a second in the more representative second practice with Mercedes-powered McLaren’s Lando Norris second and 0.095 slower.
Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton was third for Mercedes in 1:31.082.
“It’s been alright. A good feeling in the car,” said Verstappen, who won the last race of 2020 in Abu Dhabi. “Overall I’m pretty happy.
“I still expect Mercedes to be the strongest Mercedes-powered car.”
Valtteri Bottas, who has won the opening race of the championship for the past two years, was second fastest in that session but fifth in the later one when he complained the car was ‘undriveable’ at the end of his last long run.