Photo: FIA

Bottas Tops First Practice as Formula 1 Returns to Portugal


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 tires.

Bottas climbed to the top of the order after initial outings on hard compound tires 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 tires 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.

2020 FIA Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:18.410 35 213.630
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:18.749 0.339 35 212.711
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:19.191 0.781 32 211.524
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:19.309 0.899 33 211.209
5 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1:19.365 0.955 34 211.060
6 Carlos Sainz McLaren/Renault 1:19.441 1.031 42 210.858
7 Sergio Pérez Racing Point/Mercedes 1:19.907 1.497 31 209.628
8 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:19.954 1.544 34 209.505
9 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:20.058 1.648 27 209.233
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:20.124 1.714 29 209.060
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:20.200 1.790 37 208.862
12 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1:20.207 1.797 29 208.844
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri/Honda 1:20.278 1.868 32 208.659
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:20.846 2.436 28 207.193
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1:20.954 2.544 32 206.917
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:21.009 2.599 35 206.777
17 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1:21.169 2.759 31 206.369
18 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:21.374 2.964 31 205.849
19 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:21.673 3.263 31 205.095
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:22.054 3.644 34 204.143

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