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Verstappen the filling in Mercedes sandwich after Spanish GP first practice

Verstappen the filling in Mercedes sandwich after Spanish GP first practice

F1 News

Verstappen the filling in Mercedes sandwich after Spanish GP first practice

Verstappen the filling in Mercedes sandwich after Spanish GP first practice

Valtteri Bottas edged Max Verstappen by just 0.033secs at the end of the first practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Red Bull driver Verstappen provided the filling in a Mercedes sandwich as Lewis Hamilton was 0.123s behind team-mate Bottas' leading time of one 1:18.504s at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

There was a major scare for Bottas towards the end of the hour-long session as he came close to running into the back of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz on the approach to the chicane.

The Finn was forced to head off track to avoid a collision with the Spaniard as traffic built up over the closing stages due to several minutes of lost running after Alfa Romeo reserve Robert Kubica beached his car in a gravel trap at the reprofiled turn 10.

Following an early run on the soft tyres from Fernando Alonso in his Alpine that sent him to the top of the timesheet, Hamilton quickly topped that on the hard compound by two-tenths of a second.

Sporting the revised floor that was on the car of team-mate Lance Stroll in Portugal, Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel leapfrogged Hamilton on his own soft-tyre session by just over four-tenths.

The seven-time F1 champion, however, soon switched to Pirelli's red-banded rubber, reclaiming his place at the head of the field before ultimately losing out to Bottas.

In the closing stages, Verstappen managed to split the Mercedes pair, that after his running had been earlier compromised when he ran over the high kerb at the exit of turn seven.

That necessitated a return to the garage for a damage check to the front wing and floor and cost the Dutch driver 15 minutes of track time.

McLaren's Lando Norris finished best of the rest in fourth on the timesheet and 0.440s off the pace followed by Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Sainz.

As the only runners in the top 10 on medium tyres, the duo posted impressive times to both finish around half-a-second behind Bottas.

AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly was seventh quickest, followed by Vettel, with Stroll 10th as Aston Martin suggested they have marginally improved, at least for now.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez was a lowly ninth in comparison to Verstappen, finishing eight-tenths of a second behind the Dutch driver.

McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo was also off the pace of team-mate Norris down in 14th, with eight-tenths again the time gap.

Kubica, involved in an FP1 in place of Kimi Raikkonen, finished the session down in 19th place, 3.383s behind Bottas.

Following an early trip into the gravel of his own at turn nine from which he at least managed to reverse out, Haas driver Nikita Mazepin finished at the rear, almost 3.5s adrift.

Mazepin was also forced to switch to his old cockpit seat after around 20 minutes of running after experiencing discomfort from a new one produced in the week.

Spanish GP first practice times

1. Valtteri Bottas [Mercedes] 1:18.504

2. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] +0.033s

3. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] +0.123s

4. Lando Norris [McLaren] +0.440s

5. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] +0.492s

6. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] +0.516s

7. Pierre Gasly [Alpha Tauri] +0.558s

8. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +0.730s

9. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] +0.845s

10. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +0.925s

11. Yuki Tsunoda [Alpha Tauri] +1.165s

12. Esteban Ocon [Alpine] +1.177s

13. Antonio Giovinazzi [Alfa Romeo] +1.190s

14. Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +1.228s

15. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +1.446s

16. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +1.766s

17. Roy Nissany [Williams] +2.196s

18. Mick Schumacher [Haas] +2.262s

19. Robert Kubica [Alfa Romeo] +3.383s

20. Nikita Mazepin Haas +3.472s

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