Max Verstappen sits in his car with his visor open

After seven years of F1 domination, has Mercedes finally unveiled a car with a beatable weakness?

Valtteri Bottas resumed control of the time sheet for Mercedes in the crucial evening practice session at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which was briefly interrupted by a fire that struck Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo.

The Finn went fastest with a lap of 1m 36.276s ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was 0.203s adrift. Both drivers set their best laps on the medium tire. Bottas wrote off his soft lap with a twitchy moment through the first turn, while Hamilton had a time that would have been good enough to top the session by 0.2s deleted for exceeding track limits out of the final corners.

Max Verstappen was third quickest for Red Bull Racing, the Dutchman also on the medium tire. He too was on track to lead the session with the soft compound after setting a purple first sector and a personal best time at the second split, but he was held up by slower cars on long-run simulations in the final sector, ruining the lap.

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Valtteri Bottas has pipped George Russell and Max Verstappen in a three-way fight for pole at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen started the top-10 shootout as favourite with provisional pole, but the super-short circuit lent itself to three runs than the usual two, and Valtteri Bottas duly took back the initiative with his second lap.

But George Russell, standing in for Lewis Hamilton as the world champion recover from COVID-19, was the man making the biggest gains. The Williams driver has been improving session by session during his Mercedes loan and had just 0.142 seconds to close with his final tour to contend for pole.

Valtteri Bottas led a Mercedes front-row lockout at the Sakhir Grand Prix after narrowly beating stand-in teammate George Russell to pole position.

Bottas held provisional pole ahead of the final flying laps but failed to improve with his final effort, leaving himself vulnerable to the improving Russell, who is substituting for Lewis Hamilton this weekend after the world champion contracted COVID-19.

The young Briton started with a 0.142s deficit and set two personal best times in the second to splits, but it wasn’t enough to overturn the disadvantage, falling an agonizing 0.026s short.

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George Russell swept Friday practice for his new Mercedes team after teammate Valtteri Bottas had several of his fastest laps deleted at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Russell — substituting for Lewis Hamilton this weekend after the world champion’s positive COVID test — was unable to improve on his FP1 time, but his lap of 54.713s was enough to keep him 0.128s clear at the head of the time sheet.

Bottas was on track to claim top spot with his first lap on the soft tire, but the Finn fell afoul of freshly instituted track limits at Turn 8, set at the outer edge of the curbs at the exit of the right-hander. His quickest time would have beaten Russell’s best by 0.2s before it and two subsequent laps were deleted for driving off the track, leaving him 11th.

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George Russell ended his debut timed session as a Mercedes driver at the top of the charts at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Russell, seconded from Williams to deputize for Lewis Hamilton while the world champion recovers from COVID-19, lapped the 2.202-mile ‘outer loop’ configuration of the Bahrain International Circuit in just 52.564s.

The 22-year-old Briton looked immediately at home in the black car. His feedback via team radio was focused mostly on adjusting to the functions and steering wheel controls of his new machine, and his only major problem appeared to be some shoulder discomfort as he squeezed into a cockpit designed for Hamilton, who stands approximately 4.3 inches shorter than his substitute.

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Lewis Hamilton won the Bahrain Grand Prix after a fiery first-lap crash for Romain Grosjean saw the race suspended for more than an hour.

Grosjean’s Haas split in half and exploded into a fireball after smashing through the steel barrier at the outside of Turn 3 at approximately 85mph. The Frenchman had clipped the front of Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri while traveling at around 150mph, sending him spearing off the track.

His car pierced the barrier, the halo cleaving its way through metal struts, and the momentum snapped the rear of the chassis from the survival cell. Spilt fuel from the broken car then ignited the cockpit, engulfing Grosjean in flames.

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Lewis Hamilton has controlled the Bahrain Grand Prix after a fireball smash had Romain Grosjean sent to hospital and the race suspended on lap one.

Grosjean’s Haas car left the track at around 240 kilometres per hour after tangling with Daniil Kvyat at turn three and slammed into the steel barriers, breaking in two.

The front section of the car wedged itself among the rails and burst into flames, trapping the Frenchman inside for 20 seconds until he could undo his belts and climb from the burning wreckage.

Lewis Hamilton is on track to take a century of pole positions this season after recording his 98th qualifying triumph at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver set a new track record to beat teammate Valtteri Bottas to pole by 0.289 seconds for Mercedes’s 11th front row lockout of the year.

Hamilton already holds the record for most pole positions in Formula One, and with two rounds remining after this weekend’s race the Briton could raise the bar to 100 at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in a fortnight.

Lewis Hamilton ended Friday practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix as the fastest man in a night session interrupted by red flags for an Alex Albon crash.

Hamilton lowered his pre-sunset benchmark by less than a tenth to 1m28.971s with lap on fresh softs in the final 15 minutes. It was enough to beat Max Verstappen to top spot by 0.347s, although the Dutchman’s best lap was logged on medium tires after he had been unable make gains on the softs.

Valtteri Bottas was third, 0.018s behind Verstappen on his own soft tire run early in the evening.

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Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of opening practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. The champion-elect’s best time of 1m29.033s was 0.449s quicker than Bottas and almost a full second ahead of the next-best car, Sergio Perez’s Racing Point.

The Mexican is leading the way in the battle for fourth in the drivers standings and forging a path for Racing Point, which heads the midfield in the battle for third.

Midfield rival Carlos Sainz was just 0.18s further back for McLaren, the two teams split by only six points.

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Lewis Hamilton has equalled Michael Schumacher’s seven-title record with one of his all-time great drives.

Lewis Hamilton has equalled Michael Schumacher’s record seven world championships with a masterclass of mixed-conditions racing at a thrilling Turkish Grand Prix.

The Briton had qualified sixth but only had to prevent teammate Valtteri Bottas from outscoring him by eight points to seal the deal with three rounds to spare.

In the end his finishing position mattered naught, with Bottas spinning out of the points at the very first corner in soaking wet conditions as he attempted to avoid friendly fire between the Renault drivers.

Lewis Hamilton claimed a record-equaling seventh world championship with a perfectly judged victory at a rainy Turkish Grand Prix.

The Briton started from sixth on the grid and struggled to improve his lot early in the race as he grappled with the full wet tire and a Mercedes car befuddled by the cool conditions and slick track. But after a switch to the intermediate tire and as a dry line began to form around Istanbul Park, Hamilton rediscovered the sublime mixed-conditions touch for which he’s so renowned.

The Briton’s win was sealed by a superbly managed 50-lap second stint to avoid the second stop required by so many of his rivals, guaranteeing him an unassailable lead of 31s over the field when he took the checkered flag.

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No team has reigned over Formula One for as long as Mercedes, but all empires come to an end eventually.

Mercedes has won a record-breaking seventh consecutive constructors championship with a Lewis Hamilton-led one-two finish in Imola at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

The German marque’s undefeated run since 2014 beats Ferrari’s previous record of six straight titles between 1999 and 2004.

Mercedes is also guaranteed a seventh straight drivers title, with only Valtteri Bottas in mathematical contention to catch points leader Hamilton with four rounds remaining.

Mercedes has won an unprecedented seventh consecutive constructors championship with a Lewis Hamilton-led one-two victory at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola.

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Valtteri Bottas will start from pole position ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in F1’s first race in Imola in 14 years.

Bottas trailed Hamilton by 0.031 seconds after their first laps of the top-10 shootout, but a 0.2-second improvement with his second lap turned that into a 0.097-second advantage at the flag, delivering him his fourth pole of the season.

“I knew in the last lap I had to risk it and go hard and the car responded,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to get pole. I had the shakes afterwards!”