(Motorsport-Total.com) – Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) set the fastest time in the first free practice session for the Portuguese Grand Prix in Portimao. His team mate Lewis Hamilton (+0.339) and Max Verstappen (Red Bull / + 0.781) landed on the places.
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Classifying the lap times after an hour and a half on the route that is new to everyone is difficult. The track still offered little grip, especially at the beginning – also because it was recently repaved. “This is Tokyo drift! Unbelievable”, complained about Carlos Sainz (6./McLaren/+1,031), who was the first driver to test diligently and at the end of the day was the most diligent with 42 laps.
Another reason not to put the lap times on the gold scales are the track limits. Due to violations in turns 1 and 4, laps were canceled almost every minute (!). Lance Stroll (Racing Point) would otherwise have finished 14th instead of 15th – otherwise the canceled laps had little effect on the final result.
Bottas set his fastest time on Pirelli medium tires. The tests with the new prototypes for 2021 will only take place in the first half hour of the afternoon training session, which starts at 4 p.m. German time (Formula 1 2020 live in the ticker!). The very soft softs were not even used in the FT1.
Teams are testing a number of new updates
While the drivers shot themselves into the track, the teams used the time for technical tests. With a view to 2021, Mercedes drove without the DAS steering system, Ferrari was already trying out a 2021 underbody, at Red Bull the front suspension was painted with FloViz paint and McLaren, to name a few examples, continued to test the most recently introduced updates.
Three Mercedes cars also had new control electronics installed, namely Bottas (after his power unit problem at the Nürburgring), Hamilton and Williams driver George Russell (18./+2,964). The other Mercedes drivers did not switch to the new variant because it would have meant a grid penalty for them.
Behind the top 3 came Charles Leclerc (Ferrari / + 0.899) and Alexander Albon (Red Bull / + 0.955). Leclerc turned once, Albon was not satisfied with the balance: “The car is just so unstable at low speeds!” Complains the Thai.
Vettel: Clearly behind Leclerc
Sebastian Vettel made a spin in the first practice session, but otherwise completed 37 laps without any problems and ended up in eleventh place 1.790 seconds behind the fastest time. On Leclerc he lost 0.891 seconds. For the time being, he is still a long way from the increase he has set himself for Portimao.
And otherwise? Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafauer speaks of the fact that the balance is “not yet optimal”. Nevertheless, Sergio Perez managed a respectable result with P7. Perez was also 1.047 seconds faster than Stroll, who was defended by Szafnauer: “Lance has oversteer. We will have to change something.”
Kimi Räikkönen improved to eighth place at the end of the session, 1.544 seconds behind Bottas. “It was a good training session for us,” says team principal Frederic Vasseur. Not so much for Monza winner Pierre Gasly: He came in after 29 laps because of a “problem with the car” (pit radio). Even so, he ended up in tenth place.
(F1-Paddock live: Training Friday in Portimao)