Bottas Sets the Early Pace in Barcelona Ahead of Hamilton


Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas went quickest in the opening practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix, finishing more than eight tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton and almost a second clear of third-placed Sebastian Vettel.

The Mercedes drivers’ dominance of the session was established early with Bottas using soft tyres to push into the 1m18s bracket.

At that point the were backed up by Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, but the Australian wouldn’t figure in the session for much longer. With grip at the premium on the new track surface, Ricciardo lost control of his RB14 in Turn 14 and slid off through the gravel, hitting the barriers and causing damage to the front-left of his car.

The incident saw the Virtual Safety Car deployed and when the cautionary period ended, Bottas took a new set of soft tyres and stretched his legs once more, eventually improving to a time of 1:18.4311.

A second VSC period then ensued when Williams’ Lance Stroll went off at Turn 5, soon after complaining about the poor balance of his car.

And once again when the VSC period ended, Bottas improved his time, this time establishing a benchmark of 1:18.148 that would remain for the remainder of the session. Hamilton, meanwhile, finished 0.849s behind the Finn.

Vettel, meanwhile, sat in fourth for much of the session before Ferrari sent both of its drivers out on supersofts. Vettel vaulted to third late on but still could only manage to get to 0.950 behind Bottas. Räikkönens initial foray on the red banded tyre left him 1.6s down on Bottas’s best time but he eventually managed to work his way to a time of 1:19.499, some 1.3s behind his fellow Finn and four tenths of a second behind Vettel.

The gap was sufficiently large to allow Max Verstappen to slot his Red Bull Racing car between the Ferraris, with a time of 1:19.187, a second adrift of Bottas.

Behind fifth-placed Räikkönen, McLaren finished as best-of-the-rest, with Fernando Alonso setting a time of 1:19.858 to take sixth spot on the timesheet. The Woking team also debuted a radically redesigned nose and also new bargeboards during the session.

Ricciardo’s early time was in the end good enough for seventh place, ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean, McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, who rounded out the top 10 order.

2018 Spanish Grand Prix – Free Practice 1

1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 32 1:18.148
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 22 1:18.997 0.849
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 24 1:19.098 0.950
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 26 1:19.187 1.039
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 19 1:19.499 1.351
6 Fernando Alonso McLaren 26 1:19.858 1.710
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 11 1:19.871 1.723
8 Romain Grosjean Haas 24 1:19.906 1.758
9 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 28 1:20.083 1.935
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 29 1:20.508 2.360
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas 28 1:20.637 2.489
12 Charles Leclerc Sauber 23 1:20.665 2.517
13 Sergio Perez Force India 36 1:20.924 2.776
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 18 1:20.984 2.836
15 Carlos Sainz Renault 28 1:21.053 2.905
16 Esteban Ocon Force India 27 1:21.144 2.996
17 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 26 1:21.159 3.011
18 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 28 1:21.373 3.225
19 Robert Kubica Williams 24 1:21.510 3.362
20 Lance Stroll Williams 15 1:22.756 4.608

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