Bahrain GP: Lewis Hamilton tops stop-start FP2

Amid development tyres, a heavy crash and a dog roaming the Sakhir circuit, Lewis Hamilton made it a Friday clean sweep as he set the pace in second practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion left it late after Mercedes opted to run the 2021 Pirelli tyre for half the session, but Hamilton’s 1:28.971 put him more than three tenths clear of Max Verstappen in second.

Valterri Bottas rounded out the top-three a further 0.018s back, but fans can look forward to qualifying with hope as the Red Bull driver set his time on the slower medium tyres.

It was another strong showing from Sergio Perez who finished within half a second of the lead Mercedes in fourth, and Daniel Ricciardo was hot on the heels of the Mexican in fifth.

Whereas Verstappen continues to pose the main threat to Mercedes, Alex Albon did little to enhance his chances of staying on the grid with a heavy crash coming out of the last corner on one of his first flying laps.

The under-pressure driver ran wide as he tried to ring every ounce out of his soft tyres and couldn’t catch the slide in time to avoid contact with the barrier. Race control had no option but to red flag the session as marshals rushed to repair the damage and Red Bull mechanics began assessing just how long the night ahead would be.

In conditions representative of what the drivers will face in qualifying and the race, teams were desperate to get back out on track, but just seconds after receiving the green light, cars were ordered back to the garage after a dog was spotted making its own bid for glory.

Running finally got back underway with just over 26 minutes on the clock, and teams scrambled to make the most of the remaining track time.

Outside the top-five, there were good showings from Pierre Gasly – who claimed sixth despite running the mediums – and Lando Norris in seventh who recovered from reliability issues this morning.

Lance Stroll and Daniil Kvyat ensured both Racing Point and AlphaTauri had two cars in the top ten, while Albon finished 10th despite his adventures.

Ferrari’s struggles around the Sakhir layout continued with Sebastian Vettel heading Charles Leclerc in 12th, while George Russell propped up the times for Williams after sitting out of FP1.

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