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Bottas edges Verstappen on F1's return to 'the rollercoaster'

Bottas edges Verstappen on F1's return to 'the rollercoaster'

F1 News

Bottas edges Verstappen on F1's return to 'the rollercoaster'

Bottas edges Verstappen on F1's return to 'the rollercoaster'

Valtteri Bottas shrugged aside his wretched Imola weekend to set the pace at the end of first practice for Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix.

Mercedes driver Bottas struggled for pace a fortnight ago in the Emilia Romagna GP before his race was ended via a spectacular crash with Williams' George Russell.

Bottas' primary issues in Italy were tyre warm-up given the cool, wet conditions, but in the warmer climes of the Algarve, the Finn was back on the pace.

On Pirelli's soft tyres, Bottas posted a time of one minute 19.648secs around a circuit known as 'the rollercoaster' given its wild undulations, edging Red Bull's Verstappen by just 0.025s, despite the Dutch driver posting the fastest times across the first two sectors.

As for championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who holds a slender one-point lead over Verstappen in the standings, the seven-time title-winner had to settle for the fifth quickest time, finishing three-tenths of a second behind team-mate Bottas.

Verstappen's time, in particular, was set shortly after he had complained over the team radio about vibrations from his RB16B after taking to the soft tyres.

Verstappen backed out from his first flying lap as he said: "The tyres are vibrating so much I can't see where I'm going."

After being told to box if there was a safety concern, Verstappen replied: "I'll just visit the dentist after the weekend", before then just missing out on the leading time on the hot lap that followed.

Verstappen's Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez who was 0.198s off the pace in third, followed by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc who was 0.236s down on Bottas.

AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly was sixth fastest, with Williams' Russell also bouncing back from a Sunday to forget in Imola with a superb time that saw him 0.881s down on Bottas.

McLaren's Lando Norris, Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon in the Alpine completed the top 10, with Lance Stroll the leading Aston Martin driver in 11th, half-a-second up on Sebastian Vettel who was only 16th quickest.

Ahead of Vettel were two other former F1 champions in Alpine's Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen for Alfa Romeo.

On an FP1 outing after being named as Alfa Romeo's second reserve driver earlier this week, Callum Ilott finished 17th on the timesheet, just four-tenths of a second behind Raikkonen.

At the rear of the field were Haas duo Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin who sandwiched Williams' Nicholas Latifi.

Mazepin finished 4.576s down on Bottas, and 2.3s behind Schumacher, even though both were on the soft tyres and completed 29 laps apiece.

Track limits again reared its ugly head across the session, with a total of 34 lap times deleted which were shared between turns one and four.

Overall, 16 drivers had a lap time deleted, with only Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez and Ocon avoiding such an ignominy.

Portuguese GP first practice times

1 Valtteri Bottas [Mercedes] 1:19.648

2. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] +0.025s

3. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] +0.198s

4. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] +0.236s

5. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] +0.319s

6. Pierre Gasly [Alpha Tauri] +0.796s

7. George Russell [Williams] +0.881s

8. Lando Norris [McLaren] +0.987s

9. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] +1.032s

10. Esteban Ocon [Alpine] +1.152s

11 Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +1.246s

12. Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +1.347s

13. Yuki Tsunoda [Alpha Tauri] +1.442s

14. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +1.655s

15. Kimi Raikkonen [Alfa Romeo] +1.733s

16. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +1.757s

17. Callum Ilott [Alfa Romeo] +2.158s

18. Mick Schumacher [Haas] +2.291s

19. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +2.645s

20. Nikita Mazepin [Haas] +4.576s

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