Portugal, FP1: Bottas tops first practice as Formula 1 returns to Portugal
Hamilton 2nd, Verstappen 3rd
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.
|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|