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Bottas takes early honours from Hamilton as Mercedes again dominate

Bottas takes early honours from Hamilton as Mercedes again dominate

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Bottas takes early honours from Hamilton as Mercedes again dominate

Bottas takes early honours from Hamilton as Mercedes again dominate

Valtteri Bottas staked his claim to end Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton's winning run by finishing quickest at the end of first practice for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

Five days after Bottas' world championship hopes nosedived with a puncture two laps from the finish of the British Grand Prix, the Finn returned to Silverstone to prove that incident was now firmly in the past.

Bottas topped the timesheet with a lap of one minute 26.166secs, and for the first time this season at the end of FP1, leaving Hamilton 0.138s adrift, and with the rest of the field again trailing.

To try and add a different dimension to this weekend's event, tyre supplier Pirelli is running a softer step across its three compounds compared to those used last weekend.

It meant that Bottas' time was 1.3s quicker than Max Verstappen's leading FP1 time from a week ago, but with the offset being the rapidity in which the rubber degraded, notably in the hot conditions, with track and air temperatures of 43 and 27 degrees centigrade respectively.

Red Bull's Verstappen, who took advantage of Bottas' tyre woes on Sunday to finish second behind race-winner Hamilton, had to content himself with third quickest on this occasion, and 0.727s down.

The Dutch driver finished just 0.049s ahead of Racing Point's Nico Hülkenberg, back in the RP20 again following a second positive Covid-19 test, and hoping to race on Sunday after a mechanical issue forced him out of the British GP prior to the start.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was the only other driver to get within a second of Bottas, finishing 0.896s down.

The Monégasque was followed by Alex Albon in his Red Bull, but with the Thai-British driver complaining heavily of understeer, a further sign of how uncomfortable he is at present with the RB16.

After his travails across the entirety of last weekend, Sebastian Vettel at least managed to enjoy a full practice session, with the four-time F1 champion seventh quickest and 1.332s adrift.

Racing Point's Lance Stroll, Daniil Kvyat in his AlphaTauri and Renault's Esteban Ocon completed the top 10, with the latter 1.5s off the pace.

As for McLaren duo Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, they finished in a lowly 12th and 14th positions respectively, albeit with the team conducting an extensive programme of testing small set-up changes.

Williams' George Russell was 15th, two seconds back, with Daniel Ricciardo in his Renault a further three tenths down in 17th.

Robert Kubica, enjoying another FP1 session for Alfa Romeo, was down in 19th, 2.794s down and three-tenths behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen brought up the rear, just over three seconds down.

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