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F1 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix results, qualifying, grid: Race start time Australia


Williams' Thai driver Alex Albon drives during the first day of Formula One (F1) pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit
Williams’ Thai driver Alex Albon drives during the first day of Formula One (F1) pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit

A downcast, but realistic Lewis Hamilton dismissed his hopes of winning this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix after struggling to finish ninth in practice on Friday.

The seven-time world champion wound up 1.2 seconds adrift of world champion Max Verstappen who was fastest for Red Bull, imperiously confirming his new status after ending the Briton’s reign at last season’s furious finale in Abu Dhabi.

Ferrari endorsed pre-season suggestions that they have a vastly-improved car this year for the launch of a new ‘ground effect’ era with Charles Leclerc second ahead of Carlos Sainz.

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“I’m just realistic and, at the moment, like I told you last week, we are not going to be in the race for a win,” said a downbeat Hamilton.

“If you look at the Red Bulls, they are a long, long way ahead, in the region of eight to nine tenths, and Ferrari are half a second to six tenths ahead.

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Lewis Hamilton drives during the second practice session ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix. Picture: AFP Images
Lewis Hamilton drives during the second practice session ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix. Picture: AFP Images

“So we’re a long way off and we are not bluffing like people assumed we were.

“We have had small problems in the past, but we are faced with much, much bigger problems this year and everything we do to try and fix it doesn’t really change that.

“It appears as though this will be a long-term fix and not one for the short term, but our mindset is to be the best we can be – it’s not ideal, but we will pull together to try and fix it.”

Hamilton’s new Mercedes teammate ex-Williams man and compatriot George Russell was fourth, but said his lap was a ‘one-off’ lap and not an indication of any hidden speed.

Like Hamilton, Russell battled with his car’s problem with ‘porpoising’ – a bouncing sensation that is caused by the unstable management of the aerodynamics of the new cars.

In effect, the cars seem to bounce on their suspension systems as the ‘sucking’ strength of the car changes at speeds of up to 300kph.

To make matters worse for Hamilton, 37, entering his 15h season in F1, it was confirmed that he was fined 50,000 euros ($55,267) by the sport’s ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA), for failing to attend last December’s gala prize-giving ceremony in Paris.

A statement said: “In the spirit of commitment to building a more diverse sport in the future, the FIA President (Mohammed Ben Sulayem) gave his full support to Hamilton’s decision to make a donation of EUR50,000 that will be used to support a student from a disadvantaged background in achieving an educational qualification in motorsport.

George Russell is dealing with the same issues as Hamilton. Picture: Getty Images
George Russell is dealing with the same issues as Hamilton. Picture: Getty Images

DUMPED F1 STAR BACK TO PROVE A POINT

Thai driver Alex Albon said he was hungry for success before his return to Formula One with Williams after the hurt of being let go by Red Bull at the end of his first full season in 2020.

London-born Albon debuted for Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso in 2019, graduating to become Max Verstappen’s wingman.

But the 25-year-old was demoted to the role of test and reserve driver with Red Bull for 2021, his race seat being taken by Sergio Perez.

“To have the opportunity to be back in F1 you take it and you take it with open hands,” Albon said in an interview before the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.

Albon had described the pain of being let go by Red Bull after achieving two podiums, but insisted he would not be holding any grudges.

“I’ve had a great experience with Red Bull and I really like the people in the team, there are some really good guys there and of course I still see them and they say hello … but at the same time it’s a new opportunity, a new time to prove, to show myself.

“I say goodbye to Red Bull to some extent. But the focus and the excitement is with Williams and into this year.”

Alexander Albonwas let go by Red Bull in 2020
Alexander Albonwas let go by Red Bull in 2020

Albon had finished third in both the Tuscan Grand Prix and Bahrain in 2020, with his final race for Red Bull a fourth-place finish in Abu Dhabi.

He spent last year exploring other options.

“Of course, you know, last year, nothing was certain,” he said. “I was looking at other options, in other championships to see what I could do. But the hunger was always there.

“Even if you’re unsure about it, you have to go for it and see what happens and I spent a lot of last year getting hungrier and hungrier as the season went on to get back into F1.

“It feels good. On my side it feels like an opportunity to prove to myself, but obviously to other people (too), what I can do.

“I have experience with working with Red Bull from 2019-2020 and I come into this year feeling like a more complete driver. It’s a new chance, an opportunity to do a really good job.”

Sebastian Vettel has tested positive for Covid
Sebastian Vettel has tested positive for Covid

VETTEL COPS COVID, REPLACED BY FAMILIAR FACE

Four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel has tested positive for Covid-19 and will be replaced by Nico Huelkenberg for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, the Aston Martin team said on Thursday.

German veteran Vettel, 34, is the second driver after Daniel Ricciardo to test positive for coronavirus since pre-season testing began but the McLaren driver will be fit to race.

A statement from Aston Martin read: “Sebastian Vettel has tested positive for Covid-19 and will not therefore be taking part in the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix.

“Replacing him in the AMR22 will be Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team reserve driver Nico Huelkenberg, who will be in the car from FP1 onwards.” Aston Martin’s reserve driver Huelkenberg, 34, last competed in F1 in 2020. F1 has made it compulsory for all drivers and team personnel to be vaccinated this year.

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