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F1 Paddock Pass: Bahrain Grand Prix (VIDEO)

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Upon arrival in the Formula 1 paddock ahead of this weekend’s¬†Bahrain Grand Prix, there was only one subject that anyone could talk about: Fernando Alonso’s shock entry to the 101st Indianapolis 500.

The news took the racing world by shock on Wednesday, with one of F1’s biggest names signing up to enter one of motorsport’s most prestigious events, putting all other stories to one side.

Alas, there is still a race going ahead this weekend and a championship to be fought for, with the latest battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel set to take place under the lights in Bahrain.

With all the news and interviews from the paddock in Sakhir, NBCSN F1 insider and pit reporter Will Buxton brings you the latest edition of Paddock Pass.

In part one, we talk to the man of the hour – Alonso – about his plans for the Indy 500 and his preparation, with a little over six weeks to go until he goes racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In part two, we hear from Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen following a tricky start to the 2017 season, with the four-time champion team on the back foot compared to rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.

Finally, we catch up with three-time champion Hamilton ahead of his renewed battle against Vettel under the lights in Bahrain, a race he has won twice before.

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.