Valtteri Bottas led a Mercedes 1-2 in the first practice session of the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton finished just 0.039s off and Max Verstappen was 0.9s slower in third place.
Bottas and Hamilton traded places at the top of the leaderboard throughout, but it was when they switched to soft tyres for their flying laps with around 30 minutes remaining that the table-topping time of 1m16.785s was set by the Finn.
Hamilton was less than four-hundredths off Bottas but Red Bull’s Verstappen – who spent a lot of time running on hard tyres – was almost a second slower than the leading Silver Arrow.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished fourth, 1.185s off top spot and just 0.011s faster than team mate Sebastian Vettel, who received a new chassis for this weekend after a “small fault” was found on his previous one, and he looked to be more comfortable with it as he put in a time much closer to his team mate than he managed at the last race weekend. Romain Grosjean was a surprise sixth for Haas, 1.506s off the pace.
FORMULA 1 ARAMCO GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2020
Practice 1 results
|1 Valtteri BOTTAS Mercedes||1:16.785|
|2 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes||+0.039s|
|3 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing||+0.939s|
|4 Charles LECLERC Ferrari||+1.185s|
|5 Sebastian VETTEL Ferrari||+1.196s|
The top six set their fastest laps on soft compounds but Racing Point’s Sergio Perez managed his on mediums, and he was 0.180s off Haas’s Grosjean by the end of the 90-minute session in seventh. Perez, who returns after missing the last two races following a positive Covid-19 test, spent his session getting back up to speed on the yellow-walled compound.
Alex Albon finished eighth for Red Bull with the other Haas of Kevin Magnussen just a hundredth off him in P9 and the second Racing Point of Lance Stroll rounding out the top 10.
That meant neither McLaren featured in the top 10, with home hero Carlos Sainz having received a new chassis for this weekend for a P11 finish in FP1, while team mate Lando Norris finished 13th quickest. Neither Renault was in the top 10 either as Esteban Ocon finished 12th. But the margins were small on Friday: from Albon in P8 to Norris in P13, there was a gap of only 0.138s.
The AlphaTauri drivers finished 14th and 17th with Pierre Gasly faster than his team mate Daniil Kvyat who was stuck in the garage for the first half of the session with an unexplained issue. Between them sat Antonio Giovinazzi in P15 and his Alfa Romeo team mate, Kimi Raikkonen, 16th.
Daniel Ricciardo was therefore 18th in this session, 2.445s off top spot as Nicholas Latifi was 19th and Williams junior Roy Nissany finished last after a lock up and spin at Turn 10 blemished his first-ever F1 FP1 session.
George Russell, who was without a car having handed his to Nissany, decided to put himself to work in the Williams garage for FP1 – including acting as the lolipop man in the pits. He returns for FP2 this afternoon as the sun continues to bear down in Spain.