Valtteri Bottas topped the charts in Friday’s FP1 session for this year’s Portuguese Grand Prix. Max Verstappen finished just 0.025s behind the Flying Finn in a session filled with frustration for the Dutchman.
The session started with Bottas being the first car on track followed by Sergio Pérez, who had a large aero rake installed in the rear of his Red Bull.
The low-grip and dusty nature of the track meant that the drivers found it difficult to commit to the tricky fast corners of the Algarve International Circuit. Bottas set the initial pace with a time of 1:23.778.
Since teams were allocated the hardest set of tyre compounds, all the teams opted to run the hardest C1 tyre compound for the majority of the session in hopes of collecting all the data they could.
Lewis Hamilton soon toppled Bottas’s time by almost two-tenths of a second but was immediately heard on his radio complaining about the lack of balance and pitted the following lap, requesting some serious changes to his car.
After his initial aero rake run, Pérez returned to track with only half of the session remaining. But the Mexican driver showed his experience and managed to slot into the third position, only 0.198s behind Bottas.
Both Ferrari drivers showed good pace throughout the session, with the Monegasque Charles Leclerc fourth on the timesheet, just 0.236s off the pace. After his balance adjustment, Hamilton came out on the softer compound of tyres but failed to nail down the second sector almost every single lap. The Brit finished fifth, while Pierre Gasly finished sixth, eight-tenths off the lead.
George Russell continued with his fine form from Imola, setting the seventh best time of the session with Lando Norris close behind in eighth. Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon rounded off the top 10.
It was a disappointing start for both Aston Martin drivers with Lance Stroll in P11 and Sebastian Vettel in P16, the latter providing a comical moment when he parked up his car in the McLaren garage, which used to be Ferrari’s slot in 2020.
Daniel Ricciardo never looked on pace throughout the session and finished a below-par P12. Japanese sensation Yuki Tsunoda finished 13th, just ahead of two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who was the only driver to do the entire session on hards.
Kimi Räikkönen rounded off the top 15 and was two places ahead of Callum Ilott, who was getting a run in as a reserved driver in place of Antonio Giovinazzi. Ilott had a decent outing and would have gained a lot of confidence from his first outing in a Formula 1 car.
The Haas duo of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, along with Williams driver Nicholas Litifi rounded off the grid. Mazepin, in particular, struggled a lot and finished the session P20 behind Latifi.