Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020

Mercedes pair lead Verstappen in first practice at Algarve

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix first practice

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Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton topped the times in F1’s first practice session at the Autodromo do Algarve.

As usual Max Verstappen led the opposition for Red Bull. He was separated from team mate Alexander Albon by Charles Leclerc as Ferrari made a strong start at a track which is new to the F1 calendar.

Drivers experienced low-grip conditions in the first practice session on the recently resurfaced circuit. Track temperatures began at 24C, and only rose by a few degrees during the 90 minutes of running, which saw a smattering of light rain during the final half hour.

Carlos Sainz Jnr made a strong early showing, but described the low-grip surface as being like “Tokyo Drift”. He spent the initial half hour of first practice two seconds clear of the rest of the field.

The other driver to get a lot of early running in, Verstappen, had a quick spin at turn four. He complained the front wing offset was “completely wrong”, but showed better pace as the session went on.

Both Sainz and Verstappen had early lap times deleted for straying beyond track limits: Sainz at turn four and Verstappen at turn one. The latter’s engineer pointed out to his driver that at this circuit all four wheels of the car needed to be on the kerb, not over it.

Several drivers complained about the lack of grip. Nicholas Latifi, Kimi Raikkonen and Daniil Kvyat were also among those who spun. The Williams driver went off at turn 13, making a very short excursion through the gravel. This corner and the subsequent turn 14 appeared to offer particularly little grip.

Most lap times were set on hard tyres. Some drivers – notably Kvyat – reported graining and seemed to lose grip on the medium compound. The hard appeared better suited to fairly long runs, several drivers setting competitive times after 10 laps.

Despite reporting instability during the session, Albon encouragingly lapped within two tenths of a second of his team mate for fifth. Sainz’s early fast times left him sixth fastest.

Sergio Perez was able to make the most of Racing Point’s upgrades for seventh, also completing the longest run of 13 laps on medium tyres. His team mate Lance Stroll made his return to action after illness ruled him out of the Eifel Grand Prix, and ended the session 15th.

Shortly after his spin, Raikkonen put in the eighth-fastest time of the session, making a rare incursion into the top 10 for Alfa Romeo. Daniel Ricciardo was ninth ahead of Pierre Gasly, who was told to pit with a suspected fault on his AlphaTauri during the session.

After the chequered flag fell Esteban Ocon’s Renault began puffing smoke alarmingly. He was also told to pit, his engineer warning him not to change gear as he returned.

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2020 Portuguese Grand Prix first practice result

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix First Practice classification

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasMercedes1’18.41035
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’18.7490.33935
333Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’19.1910.78132
416Charles LeclercFerrari1’19.3090.89933
523Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’19.3650.95534
655Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’19.4411.03142
711Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’19.9071.49731
87Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’19.9541.54435
93Daniel RicciardoRenault1’20.0581.64827
1010Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’20.1241.71429
115Sebastian VettelFerrari1’20.2001.79037
124Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’20.2071.79729
1326Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri-Honda1’20.2781.86832
1420Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’20.8462.43628
1518Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’20.9542.54432
1699Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’21.0092.59935
178Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’21.1692.75931
1863George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’21.3742.96431
1931Esteban OconRenault1’21.6733.26331
206Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’22.0543.64434

First practice visual gaps

Valtteri Bottas – 1’18.410

+0.339 Lewis Hamilton – 1’18.749

+0.781 Max Verstappen – 1’19.191

+0.899 Charles Leclerc – 1’19.309

+0.955 Alexander Albon – 1’19.365

+1.031 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’19.441

+1.497 Sergio Perez – 1’19.907

+1.544 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’19.954

+1.648 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’20.058

+1.714 Pierre Gasly – 1’20.124

+1.790 Sebastian Vettel – 1’20.200

+1.797 Lando Norris – 1’20.207

+1.868 Daniil Kvyat – 1’20.278

+2.436 Kevin Magnussen – 1’20.846

+2.544 Lance Stroll – 1’20.954

+2.599 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’21.009

+2.759 Romain Grosjean – 1’21.169

+2.964 George Russell – 1’21.374

+3.263 Esteban Ocon – 1’21.673

+3.644 Nicholas Latifi – 1’22.054

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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9 comments on “Mercedes pair lead Verstappen in first practice at Algarve”

  1. T15 must be the most useless or at least weirdest corner of choice for track limits policing since the start of all this in Hungary back in 2013. No one goes wide there on dry conditions anyway due to the angle of the turn, racing line, and speed there, so no problem at all. T1 is the only wholly clear-cut and understandable case on this track, although I wonder why the reference suddenly is the white line this time around rather than the curbing (whenever there is one in place) as per usual.

    1. White line is what it should always be TBH, that’s the track limit.

    2. @jerejj @paeschli It’s true, the sporting regs are very clear that the white line is the track limit and the kerbs are considered off-track. All the previous instances where Masi has declared the kerbs the track limits have been in direct contradiction to the sporting regs.

      Having said that, with kerbs as wide as they often are these days, it probably makes more sense to revise the sporting regs to give authorities more flexibility in defining track limits. There are lots of tracks where drivers can and do put all four wheels outside the white line and onto the kerbs, and we all like watching the drivers wrestle with their cars in those situations.

  2. Track limits are going to ruin race for a lot of drivers with track surface not rubbering up at usual rate.

  3. Mercedes pair lead Verstappen in first practice at *enter any circuit name here*, and you get yourself a headline for practically all sessions this year.

    1. Yup, true….unfortunately.

    2. Breaking!
      “Mercedes pair lead George Russell in first practice at xxx”
      I guess more realistic hope of replacing the latter than part…

  4. Also gap has gone back to “normality” once again.

    1. That’s just free practice though.

Comments are closed.