Lewis Hamilton looks off the pace and drops to NINTH in second practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix – behind both new team-mate George Russell and F1 championship rival Max Verstappen, who took top spot

Lewis Hamilton finished a distant ninth in practice for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix as world champion Max Verstappen took top spot. Ninety-six days on from the final race of last year’s gripping and controversial title duel, Hamilton was back on track for his 16th campaign on the grid. Early on in Friday’s second running under the lights, and amid a flurry of sparks, Hamilton said: “It’s still bouncing a lot.”. Leclerc, the 24-year-old from Monegasque, finished just 0.087sec behind Verstappen as Ferrari go in search of their first drivers’ title since Kimi Raikkonen triumphed in 2007. Ocon’s team-mate, Fernando Alonso, finished fifth, ahead of Hamilton’s former team-mate Valtteri Bottas, now of Alfa Romeo.

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