Lewis Hamilton a cut above in final day of Bahrain testing

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Capping a stellar run this week at the Bahrain International Circuit for Mercedes, Bahrain Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton paced today’s second and final day of Formula One testing.

Hamilton logged a lap of 1 minute, 34.136 seconds and turned 120 laps in the Mercedes W05. His time was 1.4 seconds ahead of the second-fastest time, which was set at 1 minute, 35.557 seconds by Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne.

Mercedes later confirmed that Hamilton’s hot lap was set on a development tire from Pirelli, which got good use out of both Merc and Williams (with driver Felipe Nasr):

Yesterday, Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg – who finished second to the former World Champion in the Grand Prix after a spirited late-race duel – topped the charts in Day 1 of the Bahrain test with a lap of 1 minute, 35.697 seconds.

McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen was third-fastest today despite sustaining a suspension failure that threw him into a gravel trap before the lunch break.

Fourth-quickest was Sergio Perez of Force India, who turned in a 63-lap day, and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo completed the Top 5 – albeit at almost 3.2 seconds off the pace of Hamilton.

Marussia’s Jules Bianchi was sixth on the charts, with the second-highest total of laps at 93. Giedo van der Garde stepped in for Sauber today and went P7.

Following the Dutchman was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso (eighth), who had his day cut short when his F14 T chassis was found to be damaged.

“After the necessary checks were made, the team decided to bring the test to a premature end as a precautionary measure,” the team said in a statement that also disclosed that Alonso was to run a series of “set-up tests, carried out on data based from yesterday.”

Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson was ninth-fastest but got 66 laps in until an electrical problem with his CT05’s Energy Recovery System caused him to stop the car on track and wound up ending his day.

Williams tester Nasr was 10th on the charts, with Lotus’ Romain Grosjean left in last place among the competitors. Like teammate Pastor Maldonado yesterday, he suffered a terminal issue on his Renault power unit.

FORMULA ONE TESTING – BAHRAIN, DAY TWO
Unofficial Times
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes – 1:34.136, 120 laps
2. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso – 1:35.557, 64 laps
3. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren – 1:36.203, 26 laps
4. Sergio Perez, Force India – 1:36.586, 63 laps
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull – 1:37.310, 67 laps
6. Jules Bianchi, Marussia – 1:37.316, 93 laps
7. Giedo van der Garde, Sauber – 1:37.623, 77 laps
8. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari – 1:37.912, 12 laps
9. Marcus Ericsson, Caterham – 1:39.263, 66 laps
10. Felipe Nasr, Williams – 1:39.879, 64 laps
11. Romain Grosjean, Lotus – 1:43.732, 16 laps

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.