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Wehrlein set to return to Sauber for Bahrain

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Sauber F1 Team has confirmed Pascal Wehrlein will return to race action at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, thus giving rise to the “third time’s a charm” line that he’ll finally make his team race debut at the third race of the season.

Wehrlein took himself out of action for the Australian Grand Prix after the Friday practice sessions, feeling his fitness wasn’t up to completing a full race distance.

The team then ruled him out in advance for the Chinese Grand Prix and potentially Bahrain, although Wehrlein said at the time he was hopeful of returning in Bahrain.

Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi filled in well at Melbourne but had a ragged weekend in Shanghai with two accidents, one in qualifying and one early in the race to bring out a Safety Car.

This will see the German driver back in action for what should, we think, finally, be in the second Sauber for the first time for a full weekend in 2017 following his Race of Champions crash and subsequent back injury sustained in January.

The Bahrain Grand Prix is live this weekend across CNBC, NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Hamilton tops second Abu Dhabi F1 practice with new track record

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Lewis Hamilton swept to the top of the timesheets in second Formula 1 practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday evening, beating Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by one-tenth of a second.

Hamilton trailed Vettel through the daytime-run opening practice session, but managed to strike back by recording a new track record at the Yas Marina Circuit for Mercedes.

Hamilton recorded a fastest lap time of 1:37.877 to finish one-tenth of a second clear of Vettel at the checkered flag, appearing to have an edge across a single lap on the ultra-soft tire.

Red Bull threw its hat into the ring as a possible rival for pole through Daniel Ricciardo, who finished the session third-fastest, three-tenths of a second back from Hamilton at the head of the field.

Kimi Raikkonen ended FP2 in fourth place in the sister Ferrari, finishing within half a second of Hamilton, and managed to edge out fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, who was a further two-tenths back in P5.

Max Verstappen failed to get in a quick flying lap during FP2, ending the session one second down in P6 for Red Bull.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon’s tight intra-team fight at Force India continued through FP2 as the pair were separated by just 0.01 seconds, taking seventh and eighth respectively to finish as the leading midfield drivers.

Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso completed the top 10 for Renault and McLaren, with Felipe Massa following in 11th for Williams on his final Friday appearance in F1.

Massa was fortunate to avoid an accident with Ricciardo during the final 15 minutes of the session after a mix up at the hairpin when the Brazilian tried to get a wider line for the back straight.

Running in Abu Dhabi continues with final practice at Yas Marina on Saturday morning from 5am ET on the NBC Sports app, followed by qualifying at 8am ET on NBCSN.