Portugal, FP1: Bottas tops first practice as Formula 1 returns to Portugal

Hamilton 2nd, Verstappen 3rd

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By Olivier Ferret

23 October 2020 - 13:34
Portugal, FP1: Bottas tops first (...)

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas went quickest in opening practice at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve as the first Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix weekend in 24 years got underway.

Formula 1 last visited the country in 1996 at the Estoril circuit and following a move to the hills above the Algarve coast for this latest incarnation of the event Bottas opened the weekend with a best lap of 1:18.410 to finish more than three tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the start of a weekend on which Mercedes have a slim chance of capturing a seventh consecutive Constuctors’ Championship title.

For that to happen the team would need to outscore closest rivals Red Bull Racing by 40 points and Max Verstappen put a dent in that ambition by taking third place in the first practice session. While Verstappen ended the session almost eight tenths of a second adrift of Bottas, the Dutchman set his quickest time on the white-banded hard tyres.

Bottas climbed to the top of the order after initial outings on hard compound tyres have way to medium-compound running. The Finn’s first hot lap on the compound left him a little over a tenth behind Hamilton but a second run then lifted him clear of the championship leader.

Fourth place went to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque driver used hard tyres for his running and ended the session just over a tenth of a second behind Verstappen. Leclerc suffered a minor off during the session, losing the back end of his car in Turn 14 and putting a rear wheel into the gravel. He was able to recover and continue, however.

Alexander Albon was fifth in the second Red Bull with lap of 1:19.365 that left him as the last man within a second of the lead Mercedes. Carlos Sainz was sixth for McLaren, with the Spaniard’s best lap being 1.031 slower than that of Bottas.

Sergio Pérez took seventh place for Racing Point ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen, while Daniel Ricciardo was ninth ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly. The French driver’s session ended with 20 minutes left on the clock when he report an unspecified technical issue.

There was trouble, too, for Gasly’s compatriot Esteban Ocon. The Renault driver was told to bring his car back to the garage without changing gear as smoke drifted from the rear of his car.

Pos.DriverCarTimeLaps
01 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W11 1:18.410 35
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W11 1:18.749 35
03 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16 1:19.191 32
04 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF1000 1:19.309 33
05 Alex Albon Red Bull Honda RB16 1:19.365 34
06 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault MCL35 1:19.441 42
07 Sergio Perez Racing Point Mercedes RP20 1:19.907 31
08 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39 1:19.954 34
09 Daniel Ricciardo Renault RS20 1:20.058 27
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT01 1:20.124 29
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari SF1000 1:20.200 37
12 Lando Norris McLaren Renault MCL35 1:20.207 29
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri Honda AT01 1:20.278 32
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-20 1:20.846 28
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes RP20 1:20.954 32
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39 1:21.009 35
17 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari VF-20 1:21.169 31
18 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43 1:21.374 31
19 Esteban Ocon Renault RS20 1:21.673 31
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43 1:22.054 34

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