Valtteri Bottas leads opening practice for the Portugues Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas leads opening practice for the Portugues Grand Prix

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas went quickest in the opening practice session for this weekend’s Portugues Grand Prix beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by the narrow margin of 0.025s. Third placer went to Sergio Pérez in the second Red Bull.

Bottas set the early pace as Pérez spent the opening part of the one-hour session running with a large aero rake fitted as Red Bull analysed upgrades brought to this weekend’s event in Portimão.

Bottas worked his way to a fastest time of a 1:22.938s before team-mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton shaved two tenths off that time as both ran on hard tyres. Hamilton was unhappy with the balance of his car however and returned to the pits to make set-up changes.

Bottas later returned to the top of the leaderboard with a lap of 1:21.829s, which stood for some time before McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo jumped to P1 with a lap of 1:21.821. His stay at the top was shortlived, however, as Verstappen, making his first run of the day, immediately vaulted to the top of the order with a lap 1:21.053. Bottas beat that, though, with a lap of 1:20.506, again on hard tyres, but soon after the halfway point Verstappen went quicker again, getting down to 1:20.318.

Mercedes then sent Bottas out on soft tyres and over three laps he found his way back to the top and a best time of 1:19.648.

Verstappen also switched to the soft tyres late in the session andf though he complained of severe vibrations from his tyres he set a best time of 1:19.673 to finish a little over two hundredths of a second behind the Finn.

After completing his aero work Pérez eventually rose to third place to finish just under two tenths of a second off Bottas. Charles Leclerc took fourth place for Ferrari just under four hundredths of a second behind Pérez.

Hamilton’s unhappiness with balance extended to his runs on soft tyres and he finished in fifth place, 0.319s down on his team-mate. Pierre Gasly took sixth for AlphaTauri ahead of George Russell, who backed up Williams's strong practice form at Imola with seventh. Lando Norris finished eighth for McLaren with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz ninth ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.

2021 FIA Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:19.648 31 210.310
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:19.673 0.025 23 210.244
3 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 1:19.846 0.198 22 209.788
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:19.884 0.236 27 209.689
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:19.967 0.319 32 209.471
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:20.444 0.796 31 208.229
7 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:20.529 0.881 29 208.009
8 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:20.635 0.987 26 207.736
9 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:20.680 1.032 27 207.620
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:20.800 1.152 27 207.311
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:20.894 1.246 29 207.070
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:20.995 1.347 31 206.812
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 1:21.090 1.442 28 206.570
14 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:21.303 1.655 31 206.029
15 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:21.381 1.733 25 205.831
16 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:21.405 1.757 31 205.771
17 Callum Ilott Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:21.806 2.158 21 204.762
18 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:21.939 2.291 29 204.430
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:22.293 2.645 29 203.550
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 1:24.224 4.576 29 198.883

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