Photo: FIA

Bottas Quickest in Opening Practice for Russian GP


Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas set the pace in the opening practice session for the 2020 FIA Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix, finishing almost half a second clear of Renault’s Daniel Riccirado at the end of a session that featured a number of incidents.

Bottas, who won in Sochi in 2017 and who has three other podium finishes to his name at the Black Sea circuit, used the re-banded soft tire to claim top spot and the Finn set a time of 1:34.923 to eclipse Ricciardo who put in a good lap of 1:35.430 to edge Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen by a little under 1500ths of a second.

Mercedes led the way in the early phase of the session as Bottas went out on the C4 compound medium tires and Hamilton chose the C4 hard tire as the team sought to get a read on the durability of the softest end of Pirelli’s range of rubber. Hamilton topped the order first with a time of 1:37.313s before Bottas establisher a new benchmark, four tenths clear of his team-mate.

Around the half-hour mark Verstappen took over at the top with a medium-tire lap of 1:36.751s.

Mercedes, though, soon returned to the track on soft compound tires with Bottas setting his session-best time. Hamilton, however, didn’t get a soft lap in as McLaren’s Carlos Sainz went off track and into the barriers.

Sainz lost control of his car on entry to Turn 7 and spun backwards into the barriers, breaking his rear wing. He was, however, able to limp back to the pits.

Within moments AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat also had a spin at Turn 15, though he avoided damage, and the Virtual Safety Car was deployed, ending Hamilton’s hot lap.

While Sainz’s crash resulted in a VSC, the red flags had to be shown just before the hour mark when Nicholas Latifi went off at Turn 10. The Canadian drivers also went backwards into the barrier but unlike Sainz he was unable to continue and the session was stopped to allow for recovery of his car.

Fourth place in the session went to Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez with teammate Lance Stroll fifth ahead of the second Renault of Esteban Ocon. Kvyat ended the session in seventh place, with the second Red Bull of Alex Albon in eighth place ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.

2020 FIA Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:34.923 13 221.788
2 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:35.430 0.507 22 220.609
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:35.577 0.654 22 220.270
4 Sergio Pérez Racing Point/Mercedes 1:35.796 0.873 23 219.767
5 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1:35.965 1.042 21 219.379
6 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:36.061 1.138 23 219.160
7 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri/Honda 1:36.230 1.307 22 218.775
8 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1:36.254 1.331 24 218.721
9 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:36.323 1.400 23 218.564
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:36.706 1.783 25 217.699
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:36.896 1.973 23 217.272
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 1:36.970 2.047 8 217.106
13 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1:37.110 2.187 28 216.793
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:37.201 2.278 17 216.590
15 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:37.230 2.307 23 216.525
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:37.430 2.507 22 216.081
17 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:37.595 2.672 24 215.715
18 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1:37.649 2.726 24 215.596
19 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:37.716 2.793 18 215.448
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:37.784 2.861 11 215.299

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