F1 2020: Seven-time champ Hamilton on top again in Bahrain practice

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Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton showed no signs of slowing on his return to the track in Bahrain.

Hamilton wrapped up his record-equalling title with a stunning victory at the Turkish Grand Prix two weeks ago.

But rather than take his foot off the pedal for the rest of the season with the job done, it was full speed ahead in the first two practice sessions on Thursday.

The Mercedes superstar, who can tie the best winning streak of his career with a fifth straight victory, topped the charts in both FP1 and FP2 as a Bahrain double-header got under way.

Hamilton led a Silver Arrows one-two with an initial fastest time of one minute and 29.03 seconds, 0.45 seconds clear of Valtteri Bottas, before following that up with a second result of one minute and 28.97 seconds under the floodlights.

It was a positive start to a weekend where Hamilton said he would be utilising the first of three "test races" ahead of next year.

"We're coming into three races where the pressure is different," the Briton had said on Thursday.

"The focus now is, yes, getting the best performances out of these weekends but how can we extract a little bit more, how can we learn more from these weekends?

"Almost use them as test races, so that we can apply what we learn in these three particularly, and what we've learned this year, into next year's car."

While Hamilton's Friday subsequently went to plan, surely learning little from further smooth success, there was a harsh lesson for Alex Albon.

Red Bull have yet to confirm Albon's seat for next year and, while team-mate Max Verstappen trailed only Hamilton in FP2, the under-pressure star saw his drive cut short.

Albon hit the wall after running wide at Turn 15 to give the Red Bull mechanics plenty to do before qualifying on Saturday.

The Austrian outfit are aiming to finish runners-up to Mercedes for a fourth time and may need more from Albon given Verstappen's past woes at this event.

He has retired three times in Bahrain, more than any other grand prix in his F1 career.