Valtteri Bottas has narrowly edged teammate Lewis Hamilton for top honours in the opening practice session of the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone, with the Mercedes-AMG duo once again proving the class of the field.
The Finn marked the announcement of his 2021 contract extension with Mercedes with the fastest overall time of 1:26.166 posted on the Soft (C4) Pirelli rubber compound. Bottas was over a second quicker than the time Max Verstappen posted in FP1 at the same circuit last week, although the Red Bull Racing driver was on harder C3 rubber at the time.
Hamilton was initially the faster of the two Mercedes drivers until Bottas’ better effort, but the gap to the rest of the field was once again significant.
Verstappen was ‘best of the rest’, over seven-tenths of a second slower than Bottas’ best lap and just five-hundredths quicker than the fourth-placed Racing Point Mercedes of stand-in driver Nico Hülkenberg. The German’s presence in the cockpit of the RP20 was announced just hours before the session in the wake of regular driver Sergio Pérez’s continued diagnosis with the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
While Racing Point has been the subject of intense scrutiny in the wake of the sanctions handed down to it by the FIA, Hülkenberg quietly got on with the job and wound up almost six-tenths of a second quicker than teammate Lance Stroll who was eighth-fastest overall.
Between the pair came the Ferrari duo of Charler Leclerc (P5) and Sebastian Vettel (P7), who were themselves split by Red Bull Racing’s Alexander Albon – the Anglo-Thai driver complaining of understeer in his Honda-powered RB16.
Completing the top-ten was Daniil Kvyat in the AlphaTauri Honda and Esteban Ocon in the Renault – their respective teammates Pierre Gasly (P11) and Daniel Ricciardo (P17) had relatively mixed sessions.
With softer rubber on offer this weekend after last weekend’s race triggered a spate of puncture on harder tyres, several teams are understandably concerned about tyre wear. Over at McLaren, this would definitely be the case, as neither Lando Norris (P12) nor Carlos Sainz Jr (P14) had the early pace the get into the top half of the timesheets.
|EMIRATES FORMULA 1 70TH ANNIVERSARY GRAND PRIX 2020 – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 1|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team W11||1:26.166||21|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team W11||1:26.304||+ 0.138||23|
|3.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB16||1:26.893||+ 0.727||24|
|4.||Nico Hülkenberg||Racing Point F1 Team RP20||1:26.942||+ 0.776||25|
|5.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF1000||1:27.062||+ 0.896||20|
|6.||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing RB16||1:27.280||+ 1.114||22|
|7.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF1000||1:27.498||+ 1.332||21|
|8.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP20||1:27.539||+ 1.373||26|
|9.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia AlfaTauri AT01||1:27.653||+ 1.487||27|
|10.||Esteban Ocon||Renault F1 Team R.S.20||1:27.701||+ 1.535||23|
|11.||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlfaTauri AT01||1:27.707||+ 1.541||23|
|12.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL35||1:27.846||+ 1.680||26|
|13.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-20||1:27.908||+ 1.742||26|
|14.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL35||1:28.138||+ 1.972||28|
|15.||George Russell||Williams Racing FW43||1:28.170||+ 2.004||24|
|16.||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Racing FW43||1:28.226||+ 2.060||24|
|17.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team R.S.20||1:28.511||+ 2.345||23|
|18.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C39||1:28.655||+ 2.489||24|
|19.||Robert Kubica||Alfa Romeo Racing C39||1:28.960||+ 2.794||22|
|20.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-20||1:29.319||+ 3.153||17|
Image via Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
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