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Bottas clean sweeps Formula 1 practice for second time this season as drain stops play

Bottas clean sweeps Formula 1 practice for second time this season as drain stops play

F1 News

Bottas clean sweeps Formula 1 practice for second time this season as drain stops play

Bottas clean sweeps Formula 1 practice for second time this season as drain stops play
Will Gray

Valtteri Bottas finished fastest across all three practice sessions for Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix, with the final run red-flagged one minute before the close at Portimão's Algarve International Circuit.

The session was stopped after a drain cover came loose at the exit of turn 14, kicked up by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, leaving most of the drivers unable to go for their fastest times on soft tyres in the closing stages.

Mercedes took a one-two with Hamilton, who had a trip across the gravel during the session, finishing just 0.026secs behind Bottas’ session-topping time of one minute 16.654secs.

It is the second time this season Bottas has swept all three practice sessions after doing so at another new truck in Mugello for the Tuscan Grand Prix, only to finish second to Hamilton in qualifying and the race.

Max Verstappen, who collided with Lance Stroll’s Racing Point in practice on Friday, finished third fastest in his Red Bull and was just 0.158s off the lead pace, and on the medium-compound compared to the Mercedes duo on softs, which could bode well for qualifying.

Pierre Gasly made it into fourth for AlphaTauri, 0.276s slower than Bottas, and was happy with the car after the team changed his chassis and fitted a previously-used engine following the fire that abruptly ended his FP2 on Friday.

The teams all at least managed some running on the softest tyres as they searched for extra grip on the slippery new surface, with temperatures around 10 degrees cooler than in FP2, and cooler than they will be in qualifying.

Prior to the Saturday session, the FIA stewards had softened their approach the strict track limits after more than 100 timed laps were deleted on Friday due to drivers going too wide at turns one, four and 15.

There was plenty left to do after a heavily disrupted FP2, broken up by two separate stoppages, but the session still got off to a slow start and just four competitive laps were set in the first 15 minutes.

Charles Leclerc spun his Ferrari at turn 14 after 20 minutes, losing the rear end on entry, and Hamilton’s trip across the gravel came between turns seven and eight, which slightly damaged his front wing.

Alex Albon finished 0.463s off the lead pace in the second Red Bull, and like team-mate Verstappen was also on the mediums, with Leclerc sixth for Ferrari.

The McLarens of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris sandwiched the Racing Point pair of Sergio Perez in ninth, with Esteban Ocon’s Renault rounding out the top 10, with the latter duo also on mediums.

Nicolas Latifi, who had a chassis change in his Williams and was suffering from increased heat in the cockpit as his seat was not properly fitted, finished 19th with Romain Grosjean slowest of the runners, 1.8s off the pace.

Renault's Daniel Ricciardo was unable to get in a qualifying sim run on the soft tyres due to his DRS being stuck in the closed position for a period, with the session then red-flagged just as he returned to the track for a hoped-for late blast.

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