Lewis Hamilton fastest in 1st practice for Bahrain GP

F1 champion Lewis Hamilton fastest in 1st practice for Bahrain GP

Hamilton won his seventh title at the Turkish GP two weeks ago to equal Michael Schumacher's F1 record

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton drives his car during the first practice session ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix. Credit: AFP Photo

Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time Friday in the first practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver was 45 seconds quicker than teammate Valtteri Bottas and .97 seconds ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez on the 5.4-kilometre (3.3-mile) desert track.

Hamilton won his seventh title at the Turkish GP two weeks ago to equal Michael Schumacher's F1 record.

Ferrari struggled, with Charles Leclerc only 11th fastest and four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel 12th quickest. Leclerc took his first pole position in Bahrain last year.

Romain Grosjean damaged the tires on his Haas car after going off the circuit and over some gravel.

A second practice later Friday will be held under floodlights.