until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Bottas tops first practice at new F1 venue Algarve

by Jack Benyon
4 min read

Mercedes dominated FP1 at Portimao, with Valtteri Bottas heading Lewis Hamilton, the latter having had a better laptime deleted for track limits.

The 2.9-mile circuit returns to F1 for the first time since pre-season testing in 2009, and the session was characterised by many track limits infringements and a lack of grip seemingly brought about by failing to get the hard rubber into the correct window.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was the first in the session to lap regularly and described his experience as like “Tokyo drift”, the first of many radio messages complaining of a lack of grip.

Sainz’s benchmark time lasted for the first half an hour before a flurry of hard-tyre laps resulted in Hamilton, Charles Leclerc and Bottas dipping under the 1m19s mark with Sainz fourth.

With just under 40 minutes to go teams started to bolt on the yellow-walled medium tyre and improvements came – albeit they were not massive, and questions arose over the longevity of the medium, with graining seemingly common.

Bottas improved to a 1m19.491s to go fastest despite a replay showing him dipping a rear wheel into the gravel at the exit of Turn 8 – which appeared to be on that session-topping lap.

He and Hamilton exchanged table-toppers on the mediums, but ultimately it was decided in Bottas’s favour by 0.339s thanks to Hamilton’s track limits transgression.

Mercedes has introduced new control electronics and batteries for Hamilton and Bottas in Portugal after tracing Bottas’s Eifel Grand Prix failure to a control electronics fault. Mercedes has made calibration changes too in order to avoid a repeat.

Max Verstappen was an early spinner at Turn 4 but rebounded to jump to third – heading a group of drivers setting their best times on the hard tyre and 0.781s behind Bottas.

Leclerc – running a new combustion engine and turbo – kicked off a weekend where Ferrari brings rear-end updates, including a new diffuser, with the fourth-fastest time, ahead of a fellow hard-tyre user, the second Red Bull of Alex Albon.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Portuguese Grand Prix Practice Day Portimao, Portugal

Sainz fell back to sixth ahead of a trio of ‘Class B’ drivers from different teams which could signal a good fight in the midfield this weekend.

Racing Point gave Sergio Perez a new combustion engine, turbocharger and MGU-H for the weekend and took seventh, ahead of a very late jump up the order for mid-session spinner Kimi Raikkonen.

The Alfa Romeo driver also has a new combustion engine and MGU-H for this weekend.

Renault’s Nurburgring podium finisher Daniel Ricciardo, who was late to get going and completed the fewest number of laps, took ninth ahead of Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly, who was another driver to complain of a lack of grip.

Sebastian Vettel reported difficulty getting the hard tyres into the correct window and was bumped out of the top 10 by Raikkonen’s late jump.

Lando Norris – along with his team-mate Sainz receiving new batteries and control electronics – took 12th and reported drops of rain during the session with clouds overhead. However, no heavy rain arrived and no other drivers reported showers during the session.

Alpha Tauri’s Daniil Kvyat was 13th, another driver to have a late spin.

Following the announcement of his exit from the team next year along with Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen headed Perez’s team-mate Lance Stroll and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, who was a rare late improver.

Grosjean – boosted by a new combustion engine – was 17th, while the Williams of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi sandwiched Renault’s Esteban Ocon.

Ocon was told not to change gear coming back to the pits at the end with what was later diagnosed as an oil leak.

Ocon has new a new battery and control electronics for this weekend. The driver ahead of him in the order, Russell, has new Mercedes control electronics.

Practice 1 Results

Pos Name Car Best Time Gap Leader
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m18.41s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m18.749s +0.339s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m19.191s +0.781s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m19.309s +0.899s
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1m19.365s +0.955s
6 Carlos Sainz McLaren-Renault 1m19.441s +1.031s
7 Sergio Pérez Racing Point-Mercedes 1m19.907s +1.497s
8 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m19.954s +1.544s
9 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m20.058s +1.648s
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1m20.124s +1.714s
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m20.2s +1.79s
12 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1m20.207s +1.797s
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1m20.278s +1.868s
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m20.846s +2.436s
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1m20.954s +2.544s
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m21.009s +2.599s
17 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m21.169s +2.759s
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1m21.374s +2.964s
19 Esteban Ocon Renault 1m21.673s +3.263s
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1m22.054s +3.644s
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