Valtteri Bottas has posted the fastest lap time in Formula 1’s first ever visit to Mugello for this weekend’s Tuscan Grand Prix, narrowly outpacing Max Verstappen. Charles Leclerc got Ferrari’s 1000th Grand Prix celebrations off to a positive and surprising start with the third-fastest time.
While the Ferrari-owned circuit has occasionally played host to in-season test sessions – the last coming way back in 2012 – it was something of a journey into the unknown at the undulating, high-speed circuit. The drivers universally welcomed a visit to an ‘old school’ circuit, where huge gravel traps lay in wait to punish any errors.
After a relatively sedate opening half-hour, the lap times began to tumble in earnest once the drivers switched to Pirelli’s soft compound rubber. Bottas proved the pace-setter, posting a best overall time in his Mercedes-AMG of 1:17.879, less than five-hundredths of a second quicker than Verstappen’s Red Bull Racing Honda.
Less than a week after heavily crashing out of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Leclerc took his burgundy, retro-liveried Ferrari a surprise third-fastest. The Monégasque driver outpaced runaway championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who was half a second off the early pace set by Bottas.
Pierre Gasly, still riding the crest of the wave of his maiden Grand Prix win at Monza, finished fifth-fastest in the AlphaTauri Honda with teammate Daniil Kvyat seventh-quickest in the sister AT01. Sandwiched between them was Gasly’s French compatriot Esteban Ocon, who placed sixth in his Renault. Kvyat was the last driver to lap within one second of Bottas’ benchmark pace.
Despite clinching a podium finish last time out at Monza, the Mugello circuit is not expected to suit the McLaren Renault duo of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr. It was, therefore, something of a surprise to see the former place eighth-fastest in his MCL35. In a compressed midfield, teammate Sainz was fifteenth-fastest, just three-tenths of a second slower.
Alexander Albon was ninth-quickest in his first visit to the circuit since his Formula Renault days, while Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top ten in the second Renault.
Kimi Räikkönen – who had his very first F1 test with Sauber at Mugello twenty years ago – was a positive eleventh-fastest in his Alfa Romeo, with teammate Antonio Giovinazzi placing P14 at his second of what will be three Grands Prix on home soil this year. The pair was split by the Haas Ferrari of Romain Grosjean and Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.
George Russell was the only driver to post his fastest time of the session on medium tyres in the Williams team’s first Grand Prix without any of its family members at the helm. The Briton placed P16 ahead of the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen, who is running his third new combustion engine of the season following his blow-up at Monza.
The two Racing Point Mercedes’ were well down the order – Lance Stroll and the outgoing Sergio Pérez were P18 and P19 respectively – as the Silverstone outfit spent the 90-minute session focused on high-fuel race-style runs. Both drivers’ times were posted on the hard Pirelli rubber.
Williams rookie Nicholas Latifi brought up the rear, also posting his fastest time on the white-walled tyres. The Canadian once again earned the ire of his fellow drivers for his failure to use his mirrors when faster cars were approaching, and rounded out his session with a now-customary and harmless late spin which triggered the only yellow flag of the morning.
|FORMULA 1 PIRELLI GRAN PREMIO DELLA TOSCANA FERRARI 1000 2020 – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 1|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team W11||1:17.879||33|
|2.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB16||1:17.927||+ 0.048||32|
|3.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF1000||1:18.186||+ 0.307||27|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team W11||1:18.409||+ 0.530||28|
|5.||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlfaTauri AT01||1:18.676||+ 0.797||30|
|6.||Esteban Ocon||Renault F1 Team R.S.20||1:18.805||+ 0.926||28|
|7.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia AlfaTauri AT01||1:18.839||+ 0.960||31|
|8.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL35||1:18.981||+ 1.102||30|
|9.||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing RB16||1:19.068||+ 1.189||34|
|10.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team R.S.20||1:19.140||+ 1.261||25|
|11.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C39||1:19.219||+ 1.340||21|
|12.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-20||1:19.224||+ 1.345||25|
|13.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF1000||1:19.267||+ 1.388||27|
|14.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C39||1:19.322||+ 1.443||28|
|15.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL35||1:19.457||+ 1.578||33|
|16.||George Russell||Williams Racing FW43||1:19.478||+ 1.599||29|
|17.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-20||1:19.551||+ 1.672||25|
|18.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP20||1:19.836||+ 1.957||23|
|19.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP20||1:19.840||+ 1.961||29|
|20.||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Racing FW43||1:20.034||+ 2.155||32|
Image via Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team
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