George Russell, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020

Russell completes Friday practice sweep, Bottas 11th after quickest time deleted

2020 Sakhir Grand Prix second practice

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Mercedes newcomer George Russell stayed on top in the second practice session for the Sakhir Grand Prix.

However team mate Valtteri Bottas set a quicker time which was deleted after he exceeded track limits at turn eight.

Bottas’s deleted time – a 54.506 – would have put him first in the order. Russell estimated his team mate only gained around five-hundredths of a second, indicated he could have been faster.

Max Verstappen was second-fastest, just over a tenth back from Russell. He was followed by Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, with his team mate Alexander Albon three tenths behind.

Ferrari’s promising showing in the first practice session was not replicated in the second. Charles Leclerc suffered a total loss of drive early on in the session, rolling into the pit lane from turn eight and having to be pushed back to Ferrari’s garage after stopping near the weighbridge. He was unable to complete any more running in the session after the team diagnosed a problem with his driveshaft.

That left Sebastian Vettel to continue the Scuderia’s programme. His session was blighted by understeer and included more than one spin, the most dramatic of which saw him slide across the track in front of Kevin Magnussen between turns five and six. He ended the evening 16th, Ferrari last out of all 10 teams.

Kimi Raikkonen also visited the gravel early in the session. The Alfa Romeo driver locked up his rear tyres so severely the anti-stall system kicked in.

McLaren also suffered a difficult session. Lando Norris reported floor damage after half an hour then returned to the pits for the rest of second practice, bar an abortive qualifying run when he lost hybrid power. Carlos Sainz Jnr managed more running but also suffered a loss of gear mapping in the final half an hour.

AlphaTauri had looked strong in first practice but sipped back in the second. A pained-sounding Pierre Gasly reported a piece of gravel had struck his finger hard during the last 10 minutes.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
163George RussellMercedes0’54.71348
233Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda0’54.8410.12843
311Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes0’54.8660.15352
431Esteban OconRenault0’54.9400.22750
523Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda0’55.0360.32342
626Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri-Honda0’55.0680.35558
718Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes0’55.1040.39144
83Daniel RicciardoRenault0’55.1240.41147
910Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda0’55.1330.42048
1055Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault0’55.2580.54539
1177Valtteri BottasMercedes0’55.3210.60852
127Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari0’55.4840.77154
1399Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari0’55.5330.82057
1420Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari0’55.7381.02549
156Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes0’55.7841.07152
165Sebastian VettelFerrari0’55.8301.11743
174Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault0’56.0311.31814
1851Pietro FittipaldiHaas-Ferrari0’56.1101.39756
1989Jack AitkenWilliams-Mercedes0’56.2601.54758
2016Charles LeclercFerrari2

Second practice visual gaps

George Russell – 0’54.713

+0.128 Max Verstappen – 0’54.841

+0.153 Sergio Perez – 0’54.866

+0.227 Esteban Ocon – 0’54.940

+0.323 Alexander Albon – 0’55.036

+0.355 Daniil Kvyat – 0’55.068

+0.391 Lance Stroll – 0’55.104

+0.411 Daniel Ricciardo – 0’55.124

+0.420 Pierre Gasly – 0’55.133

+0.545 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 0’55.258

+0.608 Valtteri Bottas – 0’55.321

+0.771 Kimi Raikkonen – 0’55.484

+0.820 Antonio Giovinazzi – 0’55.533

+1.025 Kevin Magnussen – 0’55.738

+1.071 Nicholas Latifi – 0’55.784

+1.117 Sebastian Vettel – 0’55.830

+1.318 Lando Norris – 0’56.031

+1.397 Pietro Fittipaldi – 0’56.110

+1.547 Jack Aitken – 0’56.260

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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64 comments on “Russell completes Friday practice sweep, Bottas 11th after quickest time deleted”

  1. The British takeover is real, i am so glad i have a future great to follow when Lewis retires. Russel was always the real deal look how he beat Lando who more than matches Sainz in speed over 1 lap. Cannot help but feel Lewis would be way ahead though he really mentally beat Bottas this year.

    1. Beat Lando?boy you’re trippin’ :)))

  2. Exceeding track limits? No problem, just scrap them already. No need to enforce the rules if the corners are too difficult :-)

  3. George did a good job today! Fastest on the qualy-sims and consistent on the long runs.
    But Mercedes seem to be under pressure this weekend. Their long-run-pace wasn’t very good, barely quicker than RP, Alpha Tauri and Renault. Verstappen, on the other hand, looked very fast on his long runs.

    1. That was in clean Air. Max needs to get ahead of Mercedes on start, otherwise those straights will be hard.

      1. He definitely does. But Mercedes are under pressure too. If they have a bad start on Sunday, they might struggle to overtake the RPs and the Renaults, as was the case with Bottas last weekend (despite him having a big pace advantage over them, at least on paper).
        Max definitely has got a chance of a win on Sunday.

  4. Nice one, George. Just let it coast you home :)

  5. Looking at the generous use of run off in P1 and lap deletion during P2 (and also in other circuits), I think F1 should try out a powerboat type race track sometime. Define the straights and instead of turns, just keep bollards and tell the drivers to be on right or left of each. Let them figure out the best racing line as long follow the rules and are back on track before the next piece of straight track

    Will be fun to see what lines they take

  6. All Bottas needs to do is to go over the track limits a couple of times until FIA decides they will no longer be strict, like they did last week. Otherwise it will seems like the rules are subjectivelly applied only for the convenience of certain drivers.

    1. The FIA are covertly controlled by Kvyat.
      I read through the comments for a rare jewel of crowdsourced insight, knowledge or humour. If I wanted inane bitterness I’d just continue talking to myself.

  7. Are you ready to sign now Lewis ?

    1. Imagine thinking this will have any bearing on Hamilton’s contract.

      Bottas on the other hand….

      1. Well Bottas is the one with a contract for next season. Hamilton on the other hand…

        1. Mercedes could easily buy Bottas out if they were so inclined.

        2. Contracts in F1 are completely meaningless. Are you new?

    2. Nothing is won on a Friday, let’s see if he can handle the pressure on a Saturday and Sunday!

      George needs to work on his race pace if he’s going to be a threat on Sunday . I’d love to see him do well, so fingers crossed

    3. @hohum

      It seems tempting right? Sign the quick kid. He really might be as fast as an aging Hamilton.


      Sign Hamilton for one more season. Early in the year spray champagne everywhere when he breaks 100 poles. Later in the season spray champagne everywhere when he breaks 100 wins. At the end of the season watch all the newspapers headline Sir Lewis
      and his all conquering Mercedes.

      In the end formula 1 is just advertising, and Hamilton’s worth every penny.

  8. I’ll admit I’m surprised on how quick Russell is up to speed on that Mercedes – I expected him to not do much better than 3rd-4th. Does kinda show how good that Merc is. More surprised that so far he seems to be consistently quicker than Bottas.

    1. lexusreliabilty?
      4th December 2020, 20:40


      More surprised that so far he seems to be consistently quicker than Bottas.

      Just curious but did you watch both practice sessions? In FP1 Bottas was a second up on Russel for the majority of the session prior to damaging his car which meant he didn’t improve in the qualy sims later in the session. In FP2 he was a couple of tenths up on 2 laps, aborted a third- on the first 2 that were deleted he was up; the third he was up again through S1 but aborted after running wide again through T5.

      I know you still have to stay within track limits and put it all together- but Bottas isn’t off the pace as the headline times suggest.

      1. This is a fair comment but these things happen too often to Bottas for them to be bad luck/coincidence.

        1. But this is practice after all and Bottas can quite regularly challenge Hamilton who certainly is incredibly good in qualifying. Practice is for drivers to ……. practice. Yes, it seems strange that Russell has done better than Bottas, bot top drivers can make mistakes in practice. Even Hamilton crashes from time to time.

      2. If your competition is faster than you while you’re both staying on the track, then your competition is faster than you. It’s easy to go faster if you ignore the racetrack.

        1. That’s my thinking too. It could be Valtteri was “sandbagging”, but why would he then produce fastest lap times only to have them deleted? To me it would make more sense to keep you head down and concentrate on perfecting your lap and to produce times that are close to the front but not conspicuously in the front. After all this is a practice session, you don’t have to get a better time than your new team mate, but having more laps deleted than your new team mate? I wouldn’t have expected that of Valtteri. The first real test is in Q1, where deleted lap times will cost you.

      3. @lexusreliabilty? I don’t think Bottas is off the pace. More that he’s pushing hard, indicated by his lockups in the first session, plus damaging his car, and then failing to set an unscrubbed fast time in FP2. That indicates overdriving. So it’s a bit ominous that Russell, still finding his way around the car, was clearly driving within his own limits – he made no mistakes and kept on the track on the fast laps – set the fastest times. It’s going to be very difficult for Russell to get it all worked out for Sunday – one lap pace, qualifying into Q3 which he’s never done (with all the potential mishaps involved with this badly designed short circuit), starting the race at or near the front, and achieving a good race pace and tyre management in his first shot. But do enough of those things and he’ll continue to impress. I don’t see Bottas having an easy race. Mercedes don’t seem to have a vast advantage, meaning he’ll be under big pressure from that, from Verstappen and from Russell. His Friday was mistake-filled, which means he’ll need to get it right tomorrow to qualify on pole and be in a good mindset for Sunday.

        1. @david-br “Badly designed short circuit” ???
          What do you want? A perfectly flat and level circle? Yawn….
          It’s great to see the drivers driving, just as they had to in Turkey. Bumps, surface changes, cambers, racing line compromises… The more challenging, the better. More like this, please.

    2. Hasn’t Russell been testing for Mercedes since at least 2019 though?
      He’s familiar with that car – or its immediate predecessor.

  9. Looking at some of the comments here: Are people posting based on best lap times only and not watching FP2? I mean, that’s what I normally do. But since Russell driving for Mercedes was so exciting, I watched the whole think.

    Spoiler alert: Bottas had no qualifying laps without interruptions. He aborted every single one of them – either he made a mistake or there was traffic or for some other reason. His only quick lap was deleted. The world feed actually showed that based on sector 2 times Bottas gets pole position by three tenths.

    Let’s wait for the qualifying tomorrow. If Russell beats Bottas and Bottas has no technical problems, I’ll join everyone praising Russell. But FP2 times mean nothing.

    1. +1 I watched the whkle thing just to see what actually is going on.

      Bottas did have a faster lap within him, but not on the scoreboard.

      Crucially for George he was on the pace and making it count.

    2. lexusreliabilty?
      4th December 2020, 20:43


      Well said. Bottas was up on his 3rd attempt as well but aborted after running wide through T5 again. Also in FP1 Bottas was a second up on Russell until the late qualy sims when he damaged his car. If he gets T5 sorted, he gets the job done.

      1. I’ve said it above but this ‘bad luck’ happens to Bottas far too often for it to be bad luck.

        1. You are the one saying “bad luck”, not the other posters. He made mistakes today by picking up damage in the first practice and running wide in the 2nd. Both of which was his own doing. But the traffic and other laps he had to abandon due to yellow flags were either “bad luck” or coincidence. He didn’t trigger them.

          And Bottas has been very unlucky many times. You can’t say he caused Vettel’s wing to get stuck under his car or that he caused his car to lose power and retire in the Eifel Grand Prix. Then there was also the puncture in Britain which was also bad luck.

          If you think this is all down to Bottas that triggers his luck, then you also would have thought that Hamilton made his own bad luck in 2016 with the amount of problems he had which I don’t think is the case for either at all. Bottas just seems to have worse luck than Hamilton each season they have been team mates, and it isn’t him causing it. When he does have a negative result that was caused by his own mistake, people tend to admit that rather than saying it was unlucky such as in turkey.

          Today was mostly of his own doing, but he also did have to hold back several times that he couldn’t help, so the times are not representative.

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      5th December 2020, 1:12

      You’ll only praise him if he beats Bottas? Why did the inexperienced driver make no mistakes and the experienced one fail to get a single one in?

      We know Bottas is fast but he can’t do it consistently and makes lots of mistakes. Russell has no experience in the car so should be slower than Bottas but is already making fewer mistakes.

      1. @petebaldwin
        This was practice, it’s where the drivers are supposed to test limits and make mistakes (as long as they don’t crash out), so that they won’t make them in qualifying and race.

  10. Pretty nice so far. No predictions till Sunday’s Lap 1.

  11. It’s going to be very interesting! Russell is an exceptional talent, I mean he’s shown it at Williams and he smashed Norris and Albon in F2 as well. I’m a big fan of his.

    I think George may well qualify on pole, his 1 lap pace is mighty. However, his race pace is definitely not as strong. At Williams he hasn’t blown his teammate away in the race as much as in qualifying.

    He was quite a way behind Bottas in the long runs (think it was 4 tenths per lap). We will see how that translates in the race.

    I think if people want to make comparisons to Hamilton, do it after the race because that’s where Lewis is at his strongest, not just producing incredible pace over 1 lap but consistently for the whole race

    1. Not sure beating Albon is much of a merit really.

    2. @burden93 Are you sure that gap of 4 tenths was when they were both on the same tyre? I didn’t see the whole session but I saw at one point Russell was lapping about 6 tenths off Verstappen, but he was on the hard tyre when Verstappen and most others were on the medium. Not sure if Russell also did a long run on mediums.

  12. I wonder what kind of information Russel is getting from mercedes? Access to Lewis’s setups etc? You’d think so.

  13. Is anyone comparing Russell to bottle not noticing that fitipaldi is doing worse compared to his team mate?

  14. Just a thought. Years ago, Hamilton would sandbag to try and hide his telemetry from Rosberg. Just wondering if Bottas is up to the same tricks- he was quicker than Russell on his deleted lap.

    1. Cutting the corner by going off track does give you a quicker lap time. Russell stayed within track limits Bottas didn’t.

      1. Re-read my comment and comprehend what I’m trying to say.

    2. Good point, but i don’t think Bottas is that canny.

      Sure he could hide his true performance, lull Russell and everyone else into a false idea of their excellence,
      but this only works if those ahead of him aren’t then so confident that they go even faster.

      The reverse works just as well, eg you are so far ahead that they don’t push as hard, as they’ve given up before they’ve started. Or you are so far ahead they they throw causion to the wind and therefore make mistakes trying to make the pace.

      Besides which there’s race and qualifying trim.

      if RB are forced to turn their engines up to 11, to qualify, their engines may give out under race conditions, as we’ve seen before – unless they are disciplined to race under the car’s max potential in the actual race. eg turned up to 11 but raced at 9.

  15. Tomorrow GR qualifying record 37-0
    Botas :((((((((( To whom it might concern: I am a real number 2 driver

  16. Bottas seemed very ragged even after the bib was repaired. He set a faster time by cutting corners. Russell stayed within the track limits and set a legitimate faster time.

    Russell recognised the race pace deficit and said he will burn the midnight oil to deal with that.

    Personally I think his starts are the bigger problem.

    Bottas seems under pressure and he is not always at his best in that circumstance.

    1. Are you talking about Russell’s or Bottas’s starts? Bottas has had several bad starts this year, but most of the time, he is fine. Even Hamilton had 2 poor starts this year, with the one in Tuscany being rather masked by Verstappen’s sudden loss of power causing several cars behind him to ease off. Hamilton likely will have lost as many places as Bottas did in italy if not for those havign to break behind Verstappen.

      Anyhow, Russel (who you could be talking about) certainly has a bigger issue with his starts than bottas. He’s been frustrated with himself recently about them too. Even last year, it has to be said, Kubica probably around half the time outlaunched him at the start. I honestly feel that if this is still a problem for Russell, then being higher up the grid will show that his bad starts will really start to hinder his results due to losing more positions. I think this is probably his biggest weakness.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        5th December 2020, 1:16

        @thegianthogweed Both will struggle at the start. Bottas’ starts have been horrific and Russell hasn’t started in this car yet or at the front of the grid. I’d be amazed if a Mercedes leads at the start of lap 2.

        1. @petebaldwin

          On lap 1, Bottas has lost 1 or more positions 4 times this year. In Hungary, Italy, Turkey and Bahrain. Though he initially spun in turkey because he had no choice because of avoiding Ocon, though the next contact was his fault.

          Every other race, he’s either remained in his same position by the end of lap one, or sometimes gained one or more. So I wouldn’t say he’s been horrific based on the whole season. You basically already implying it is incredibly unlikely that Mercedes will be leading by the end of lap 2 is a little optimistic.

          Talking about losing places at the start Hamilton also had 3 races where this happened at Tuscany Portugal and Emilia Romagna where Bottas has taken the lead. As I said, Tuscany was masked by verstappen’s failure which made the others behind him lift, otherwise Hamilton will have been P4 – P5 at best by the first few corners. This possibly will have given Bottas the win too.

          When you consider the few bad starts Hamilton and other drivers have had, Bottas hasn’t been terrible over the season.

  17. This just shows how good the Mercedes car is. I would say that half the f1 drivers would have performed the same or close to Hamilton in that car for the last few years. Also botas seems to be mediocre at best. Mercedes hasn’t fired him because he is a good number two/mediocre driver. The Mercedes’ car advantage has allow them to win all the championships in this hybrid era, and the other teams that at some point fought for either the driver’s championship or team championship had more DNF’s due to mechanical problems or one of his drivers was consistently underperforming example gasly, Albon in Red Bull or vettel/kimmi in Ferrari.

    1. If Red Bull or Ferrari have better #2 drivers and they score consistently, I ‘m pretty sure Mercedes would fire bottas soon.

  18. The walls are closing in around Ham and his last six championships. The history books can correct themselves. No mercy!

    1. Correct themselves with who exactly? Bottas and Vettel? haha

    2. @Paul Jones

      Will they take away Hamilton’s *7 world championships if Russell beats Bottas? POh that’s right, armchair critics actually think their opinion is relevant. There won’t be any revisionism going on about what Hamilton has achieved- it’s already set in stone. Same way even though Vettel isn’t the same driver, he’s still a multiple world champion. It is what it is.

  19. Glad we didn’t have to see the mediocrity of Hulkenberg or Vandoorne again.

    1. @darryn Sure, Russell in the car was nice (and probably the best option). But Hulkenberg is more deserving of an F1 seat than some of the rich kids and even Vandoorne may have something that he didn’t get to show. I don’t believe Vandoorne is slower than Latifi or Mazepin.

  20. Some good rally driving out there today.

    1. @jimfromus and in this weekend WRC is racing in Monza :)

  21. Let’s get used to the headline .. Russell sweeping.
    P.S. If Hamilton championships look cheap, imagine Vettel’s.

    1. @f180

      2 practice sessions and already Russell is the second coming. There are plenty of drivers who looked promising and actually achieved more than what George has (which isn’t much at the moment) and yet never fullfilled that early promise. Also, if Hamilton’s championships look cheap imagine Schumis and Sennas who also won with dominant. PS F1 has always been about the car and driver combination.

  22. That was impressive by Russell, but sorting the setup right away with Bottas struggling with the same, also proves that side of the garage is simply better.

  23. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    5th December 2020, 6:31

    Russell also shows that Red Bull has been wasting their time with Albon, how much time does a good driver need to adjust/learn/get settled to deliver speed and results.

    Hulkenberg showed it earlier this year, Max showed it in 2016 and Russell showed it Bahrain, good drivers need very little time to be on speed.
    Bottas might qualify ahead, finish ahead but Russell will be close behind.

    Yes rookies make mistakes and have some time to learn but Albon had more than a year and is still 0.5 second per lap slower with very little upward progress.

    1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      5th December 2020, 6:34

      Oh forgot to mention Leclerc as another good example of why Albon is not and never will be a good enough to sit in that Red Bull.

      I hope Red Bull chooses Hulkenberg but think Perez is the better choice. Just please no more Albon.

  24. Russell jumping into a new car (that he can barely fit in) and not only getting close to Bottas but beating him is extraordinary.

    He was on Bottas’s pace from the start of practice. He’s exploring the limits of that car. Bottas has raced that car since July and been driving similar Mercedes cars since 2017.

    I’ll be very surprised if Bottas isn’t half a second quicker in qualifying.

  25. Think Bottas will be ok, his 1 lap pace and race pace was quicker than GR.

    My concern for Russel is getting P2/P3 and not getting off the start line.

    P2 times slow, with GR 1 tenth ahead of Perez.

    You got to think BOT, VES and GR top 3 for Quali

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