The first practice session of 2021 at the Bahrain International Circuit has been and gone, with the Red Bull in the hands of Max Verstappen coming out on top.
Valtteri Bottas, just two tenths behind the Dutch driver, was the fastest of the Mercedes duo, with Hamilton landing in fourth behind the McLaren of Lando Norris in third.
Although the world champions looked quick and more reliable than in testing, it looks as if the competition at the front of the grid may be more jam-packed than 2020, with some mid-field teams already showing promising speed in their 2021 contenders.
The returning Fernando Alonso was the first on track this morning, with himself and his teammate Esteban Ocon posting the first laps of the day.
However, the pair finished out the session in P15 and P16, just ahead of the Williams and Haas outfits this morning.
All eyes were on the lap times of the Mercedes in the last hour as the world champions seem to have solved some of their testing issues in time for this weekend.
Fitted with the soft tyres, Hamilton finished out the morning in fourth behind the McLaren of Lando Norris, who posted the first lap time in the 1:31s this morning with a new Mercedes power unit on board.
Ferrari, who will be pushing for a much better season this year had a promising start to the day, with Leclerc crossing the line only marginally slower than the second Mercedes in fifth.
His new teammate, Carlos Sainz wasn’t too far behind in P7, split by the Alpha Tauri of Pierre Gasly.
The AlphaTauri looked very strong during testing, and this morning’s run shows the AT02 to be a solid midfield car, at the very least this year.
His AlphaTauri teammate, and newcomer, Yuki Tsunoda proved to be the fastest of the rookies so far, coming in 14th with a lap time of 1:33.329s.
Meanwhile, the final two rookies on track this season, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin were at the bottom of the timesheets this morning for Haas.
The team was not shy during testing two weeks ago in confirming it will likely be another tough season for them, after only minor changes made to the car over the winter with the main focus on 2022.
The challenge for Schumacher this season will therefore be to run reliably in order to remain ahead of fellow rookie team-mate Nikita Mazepin.
FP2 kicks off at 3:00 pm this afternoon, here are this morning’s full results: