The first Portuguese Grand Prix weekend since 1996 kicked off with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas fastest in FP1 ahead of team mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, as the drivers got their first taste of the Portimao circuit.
With just over 20 of the 90 minutes remaining, both Mercedes drivers were in full swing and trading places at the top of the leaderboard on newly fitted medium tyres, easily shaving time off Hamilton’s hard-tyred benchmark of 1m19.526s. But once again in a Friday session it was Bottas who had the final say, fastest in all three sectors to finish with a best time of 1m18.410s, 0.339s quicker than Hamilton.
Verstappen stuck to hard tyres but shot up the leaderboard late on to take third overall, 0.781s slower than Bottas. The Dutchman was one of a number to spin on the new track surface, while his team mate Alex Albon was fifth, complaining of instability at low speed.
FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN GRANDE PRÉMIO DE PORTUGAL 2020
Practice 1 results
|1 Valtteri BOTTAS Mercedes||1:18.410|
|2 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes||+0.339s|
|3 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing||+0.781s|
|4 Charles LECLERC Ferrari||+0.899s|
|5 Alexander ALBON Red Bull Racing||+0.955s|
Between the Red Bulls was Charles Leclerc in P4, 0.899s off the pace. Ferrari implemented the third wave of their wide-ranging upgrade package here and Leclerc seemed to relish the rejuvenated SF1000, though he was another driver to spin in FP1. Team mate Sebastian Vettel could only muster 11th place – but neither Ferrari driver chose mediums for their flying laps.
In sixth was McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, who was the third-fastest driver to set his lap on medium tyres. He was nearly 0.5s faster than midfield rival Sergio Perez, who took P7 for Racing Point, but it was Sainz who completed the highest mileage with 42 laps of Portimao on Friday morning.
As veteran Kimi Raikkonen shot to P8 in the dying moments for Alfa Romeo, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo finished P9, just over a tenth behind Perez. His team mate Esteban Ocon stuck to hard tyres throughout and was 19th on a steady Friday morning – but his session ended with a worrying mechanical issue, when smoke was seen coming from the back of his car just as the chequered flag was flying.
Pierre Gasly also had a mechanical problem creep up late in the session on his AlphaTauri yet managed a stellar P10, ahead of Vettel.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was just behind Vettel for P12 while Daniil Kvyat spun with under five minutes remaining and finished 13th for AlphaTauri.
The two Haas drivers made the headlines on Thursday as neither will be retained by the squad for 2021. This morning it was Kevin Magnussen who finished fastest out of the pair, in P14, while Romain Grojsean took P17 – with Haas yet to name their 2021 line-up.
Between Grosjean and Magnussen was 15th-place Lance Stroll, who seemed fully recovered from the effects of Covid-19, and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi – who commented on his future at the team on Thursday.
Williams rounded out the standings with George Russell 18th and Nicholas Latifi 20th, the pair split by Renault’s Ocon.
FP2 begins at 1500 local time – stay tuned to F1.com for the latest news between and beyond the two Friday sessions.