F1 qualifying LIVE: Bahrain Grand Prix practice lap times as Max Verstappen fights Ferrari

F1 races 2022: Take a virtual lap ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix

Follow live updates from Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying as the drivers battle for the first first pole of the 2022 F1 season. Friday’s practice saw the reigning world champion Max Verstappen impress in his Red Bull while Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz both showed impressive pace, while Pierre Gasly was also quick in the AlphaTauri.

However, Mercedes looked a long way off the pace and seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and new team mate George Russell saw no quick fix. Hamilton was ninth in the second session at Sakhir, with Russell fourth. The pair were seventh and fourth respectively in the opening practice.

“It’s all about lap time and we’re certainly not where we want to be,” said Russell. “I think we’ve made a bit of progress solving some issues, but the pace just is not there at all at the moment. We’re both struggling a bit with the car and we’re a long way off the pace of Red Bull, Ferrari, even the likes of AlphaTauri. Alfa Romeo are seemingly on our pace or even quicker. So we’ve got a bit of work to do.” Follow all the latest updates and lap times below.

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Red Bull and Ferrari show good pace

For Verstappen, there were no concerns as his bid to defend his crown started in the best possible fashion. And there was good news for Ferrari, too.

Leclerc, the 24-year-old from Monaco, finished just 0.087sec behind Verstappen as Ferrari go in search of their first drivers’ title since Kimi Raikkonen triumphed in 2007.

Niels Wittich is in the referee’s chair here after Michael Masi was focused as race director and he was called into action in the opening moments of the day’s first action as bodywork fell off Esteban Ocon’s Alpine.

Wittich deployed the red flag for 13 minutes as the debris was removed from the main straight.

Ocon’s team-mate, Fernando Alonso, finished fifth, ahead of Hamilton’s former team-mate Valtteri Bottas, now of Alfa Romeo, in sixth.

Lando Norris was 11th for McLaren, with the returning London-born Alexander Albon propping up the back for Williams.

Ben BurrowsMarch 19, 2022 11:45 a.m.

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Sebastian Vettel out after positive Covid test

Sebastian Vettel is out of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend after testing positive for Covid.

The Aston Martin driver will be replaced by Nico Hulkenburg for Sunday’s race.

A statement from the team read: “Sebastian Vettel has tested positive for Covid-19 and will not therefore be taking part in the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix.

“Replacing him in the AMR22 will be Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg, who will be in the car from FP1 onwards.”

Ben Burrows19 March 2022 11:36

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Mercedes struggle for pace in practice

Ninety-six days on from the final race of last year’s gripping and controversial title duel, Hamilton was back on track for his 16th campaign on the grid.

The sport has undergone its biggest rule change in a generation, with the cars radically revised in a bid to provide closer racing.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team might have dominated in recent times, winning the past eight constructors’ championships, but there is a growing feeling they will not start the new campaign anywhere near the top of the tree.

The Silver Arrows have struggled with ‘porpoising’ – the phenomenon seen this year when the car violently bounces on its suspension at 200mph.

Early on in Friday’s second running under the lights, and amid a flurry of sparks, Hamilton said: “It’s still bouncing a lot.”

He later complained that there was something wrong with his front brakes.

Ben BurrowsMarch 19, 2022 11:30 a.m.

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Lewis Hamilton donates £42,000 to FIA

Lewis Hamilton has agreed to donate £42,000 to the FIA ​​after he failed to attend last December’s Formula One prize-giving ceremony in Paris.

Hamilton and his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff boycotted the event which was staged five days after Max Verstappen controversially won the world championship in Abu Dhabi.

The sport’s rules dictate that the drivers finishing first, second and third in the championship must be in attendance.

And on the eve of the new season, Hamilton has now been officially sanctioned by the FIA. The seven-time world champion was also “reminded of his obligation of sportsmanship”.

Ben Burrows19 March 2022 11:22

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Lewis Hamilton can’t win Bahrain Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton said he will not be able to win Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix after he finished a distant ninth in practice.

Hamilton arrived for the opening round of the Formula One season fearing his Mercedes machine would not be a contender for victory.

And, while times in practice are treated with caution as teams trial different tires, fuel loads and engine settings, Hamilton’s concerns became reality.

The Briton, seventh in the first action of the day, then finished an eye-watering 1.2 seconds behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen – the man who denied him a record eighth title at last season’s contentious decider in Abu Dhabi – and six tenths adrift of his new Mercedes team mate George Russell.

Ferrari followed up their encouraging pre-season form, with Charles Leclerc second and Carlos Sainz third in the other scarlet car. Russell finished fourth.

“I am just realistic, and at the moment, like I told you last week, we are not going to be in the race for a win,” said Hamilton.

“If you look at the Red Bulls, they are a long, long way ahead, in the region of eight to nine tenths, and Ferrari are half a second to six tenths ahead.

“So we are a long way off, and we are not bluffing like people assumed we were. We have had small problems in the past, but we are faced with much, much bigger problems this year, and everything we do to try and fix it doesn’t really change that.

“It appears as though this will be a long-term fix and not one for the short term. The mindset is still to be the best we can be. It is not ideal but we will pull together and try and fix it.”

Ben BurrowsMarch 19, 2022 11:14 a.m.

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Bahrain GP qualifying

Follow live updates from Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying as the drivers battle for the first first pole of the 2022 F1 season. Friday’s practice saw the reigning world champion Max Verstappen impress in his Red Bull while Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz both showed impressive pace, while Pierre Gasly was also quick in the AlphaTauri.

However, Mercedes looked a long way off the pace and seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and new team mate George Russell saw no quick fix. Hamilton was ninth in the second session at Sakhir, with Russell fourth. The pair were seventh and fourth respectively in the opening practice.

Lawrence Ostlere19 March 2022 10:29

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