Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas set the pace in the opening practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix, beating Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles by a narrow margin before an oil leak ended the Finn’s session early.
After an early spell on medium tyres World Championship leader Bottas set his best lap of the 90 minutes on the C3 Pirelli compound nominated as this weekend’s soft tyre.
He opened his account on the softs with a lap of 1:17.990s, but then shaved a little under four hundredths of a second off that to set a benchmark of 1:17.951s.
In the end the Mercedes driver was the only man to break into the 1m17s bracket, though both Ferrari drivers pushed close to the marker. Leclerc posted a lap of 1:18.172 but then team-mate Vettel recovered from a messy opening flyer to log a time of 1:18.066s.
After outpacing the Ferraris, Bottas then retreated to the Mercedes garage where an oil leak keep ended his session with around half an hour left on the clock.
Defending champion Lewis Hamilton had a low-key session, with the Briton complaining about tyre performance during his spell on the soft compound. He eventually finished six tenths of a second off the pace of team-mate Bottas.
Fifth place in the session went to Haas’ Romain Grosjean with the Frenchman finishing 0.368 behind Hamilton. He was separated from team-mate Kevin Magnussen by just over two tenths of a second and by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, who kicked off his home race weekend with a best time of 1:19.155, 1.2s off Bottas.
It might have been expected that Red Bull Racing’s drivers would finish ahead of Grosjean, but Max Verstappen’s session was ended by a mechanical issue that saw him finish in P12.
That left Pierre Gasly to uphold team honour and the French driver was only able to take eighth place, a tenth behind Magnussen.
Ninth place on the timesheet went to Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. The Russian posted a best time of 1:19.364 and also the morning’s largest lap total of 34. Kvyat finished a little under a tenth of a second ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.
The session was red flagged a minute from the chequered flag due to a crash involving Racing Point’s Lance Stroll. The Canadian went straight on into the barriers at the quick Turn 9 causing significant damage to the front end of his car.
2019 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 19 1:17.951
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 20 1:18.066 0.115
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 20 1:18.172 0.221
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 22 1:18.575 0.624
5 Romain Grosjean Haas 25 1:18.943 0.992
6 Carlos Sainz McLaren 31 1:19.155 1.204
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas 27 1:19.180 1.229
8 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 30 1:19.285 1.334
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 34 1:19.364 1.413
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 25 1:19.450 1.499
11 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 24 1:19.511 1.560
12 Max Verstappen Red Bull 14 1:19.844 1.893
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point 28 1:19.855 1.904
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 28 1:20.021 2.070
15 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 25 1:20.030 2.079
16 Lando Norris McLaren 33 1:20.066 2.115
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point 26 1:20.459 2.508
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 22 1:20.591 2.640
19 Robert Kubica Williams 27 1:20.889 2.938
20 George Russell Williams 23 1:20.990 3.039