F1 Portuguese GP: Bottas fastest from Verstappen in opening practice

Valtteri Bottas topped FP1 for Formula 1’s 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix by 0.025s over Max Verstappen, who finished second despite complaining of vibrations impacting his vision on his fastest lap.

F1 Portuguese GP: Bottas fastest from Verstappen in opening practice

The pair traded fastest times throughout the opening practice session, while Lewis Hamilton finished fifth after complaining of a balance problem early on and then failing to string a flying lap together on the softer tyres in the closing stages.

When the session got underway, Bottas was first to take the track, followed by Sergio Perez, who was initially running a large aero rake at the rear of his Red Bull.

Bottas therefore set the early benchmark at 1m23.778s on the hard tyres, which most of the field used for the first half of the 60-minute session.

The smooth, low-grip surface meant the drivers were finding time the longer their runs went on, with Bottas soon lowering the fastest time to a 1m22.938s.

Hamilton then jumped ahead with a 1m22.772s, also on the hard rubber, but was soon back in the pits complaining that the balance on his W12 was “undriveable” and that Mercedes had to make some “serious changes”.

Carlos Sainz Jr went fastest as the opening 10 minutes ended, before he was usurped by Bottas’s 1m21.829s, which brought the Finn’s long opening run to a close.

Nearly 10 minutes later, Daniel Ricciardo put his McLaren quickest with a 1m21.821s, before Verstappen put in his first flying effort of the event just past the 20-minute mark having started his session much later than most.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Verstappen duly went to the top of the times with a 1m21.053s – which would have been faster had he not had to catch his car snapping left while running through the long, downhill right-hander of Turn 14 – where Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had run out wide over the large run-off area during the early stages.

Bottas retook the top spot with 1m20.506s when he reappeared again on the hard tyres, which stood as the benchmark over the session’s halfway point before Verstappen lowered it twice, first with a 1m20.500s then a 1m20.318s on consecutive runs – despite complaining of struggles at the tight Turn 3 right “every other lap”.

Shortly after this, Bottas switched to the soft tyres for the first time and quickly retook the top spot with a 1m20.221s, where he shipped time to Verstappen in the middle sector.

Bottas corrected this next time and lowered the fastest time again to a 1m20.088s, before breaking into the 1m19s on his next flying lap – a 1m19.648s.

Heading into the final 10 minutes of FP1, Verstappen also switched to the soft tyres, but ahead of his flying lap he complained of severe vibrations coming from his tyres, even suggesting he could not see properly as a result.

Red Bull offered to bring him in on safety grounds, but Verstappen joked he would “just visit the dentist after the weekend” and continued onto his flying lap.

Despite the issues, Verstappen set purple sectors in the first two thirds of the lap, but lost time to Bottas in the final sector and wound up 0.025s adrift, after which he pitted to get his tyres checked.

Perez slotted into third late on to finish 0.198s slower than Bottas, with Leclerc also improving as the clock wound down to put his Ferrari fourth.

Hamilton’s session finished with several attempts at a flying lap on the softs, where he would regularly set the fastest time in the first sector before losing time in the middle segment and then aborting his runs.

He therefore ended up 0.319s slower than his team-mate’s best time, with his best time on the softs coming in at 1m19.967s – the final lap under the 1m20s bracket.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Pierre Gasly took sixth for AlphaTauri ahead of George Russell, who backed up Williams’s strong practice form at Imola with seventh.

Lando Norris took eighth for McLaren ahead of Sainz, while Esteban Ocon rounded out the top 10 in his Alpine.

Sebastian Vettel provided some comic relief halfway through the session when he briefly parked up at the McLaren pits, where he had been used to stopping with Ferrari in 2020, before rolling up to his Aston Martin garage and apologising to his squad.

He finished P16, one spot ahead of Callum Ilott, who made his F1 weekend debut in place of Antonio Giovinazzi and finished two places behind Kimi Raikkonen in the other Alfa Romeo.

F1 Portuguese Grand Prix - FP1 results

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 31 1'19.648  
2 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 23 1'19.673 0.025
3 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 22 1'19.846 0.198
4 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 27 1'19.884 0.236
5 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 32 1'19.967 0.319
6 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 31 1'20.444 0.796
7 United Kingdom George Russell Williams 29 1'20.529 0.881
8 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 26 1'20.635 0.987
9 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 27 1'20.680 1.032
10 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 27 1'20.800 1.152
11 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin 29 1'20.894 1.246
12 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 31 1'20.995 1.347
13 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 28 1'21.090 1.442
14 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine 31 1'21.303 1.655
15 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 25 1'21.381 1.733
16 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 31 1'21.405 1.757
17 United Kingdom Callum Ilott Alfa Romeo 21 1'21.806 2.158
18 Germany Mick Schumacher Haas 29 1'21.939 2.291
19 Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams 29 1'22.293 2.645
20 Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin Haas 29 1'24.224 4.576
shares
comments
F1 Portuguese GP Live Commentary and Updates - FP1 & FP2

Previous article

F1 Portuguese GP Live Commentary and Updates - FP1 & FP2

Next article

Horner: Switch to F1 secret ballot voting would be ‘a shame’

Horner: Switch to F1 secret ballot voting would be ‘a shame’
Load comments
The IndyCar feature that Paul Ricard desperately needs in F1 Plus

The IndyCar feature that Paul Ricard desperately needs in F1

OPINION: The French Grand Prix offered a surprisingly interesting spectacle, despite the headache-inducing nature of the circuit. But IndyCar's Road America race offered far more in terms of action - and the increased jeopardy at the Elkhart Lake venue might be something Paul Ricard needs in future...

French Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

French Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The French GP was a weekend decided by tiny margins both at the front of the field, as Red Bull inflicted a comeback defeat on Mercedes, and in the battle for the minor points places. That's reflected in our driver ratings, where several drivers came close to a maximum score

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2021
How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes Plus

How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes

The French GP has been a stronghold for Mercedes since Paul Ricard's return to the calendar in 2018. But that all changed on Sunday, as a clever two-stop strategy guided Red Bull's Max Verstappen to make a race-winning pass on the penultimate lap - for once leaving Mercedes to experience the pain of late defeat it has so often inflicted on Red Bull

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2021
The new age of sponsorship facilitated by F1’s relevancy push Plus

The new age of sponsorship facilitated by F1’s relevancy push

The age of the high-profile title sponsor is over, says JONATHAN NOBLE, but Formula 1’s commitment to technological innovation is attracting high-tech partners

Formula 1
Jun 20, 2021
How Britain’s lost Ferrari star epitomised a bygone F1 era Plus

How Britain’s lost Ferrari star epitomised a bygone F1 era

The 1956 Italian Grand Prix was over for Juan Manuel Fangio, along with his hopes of winning the world championship – until his Ferrari team-mate (and title rival) voluntarily surrendered his own car so Fangio could continue. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls Peter Collins, a remarkable sportsman

Formula 1
Jun 19, 2021
The 'surprise' Mercedes time that puts F1's victory fight back on a knife-edge in France Plus

The 'surprise' Mercedes time that puts F1's victory fight back on a knife-edge in France

Red Bull led the way after the first two practice sessions for the 2021 French Grand Prix, but only just ahead of Mercedes. There was all the usual practice skulduggery complicating the performance picture, but one aspect seen at the world champion squad gave it a ‘surprise’ lift, as it looks to leave its street-circuit struggles firmly in the past

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working Plus

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working

After its worst campaign in 40 years, the famous Italian team had to bounce back in 2021 – and it appears to be delivering. Although it concedes the pole positions in Monaco and Baku paint a somewhat misleading picture of its competitiveness, the team is heading into the 2022 rules revamp on much stronger footing to go for wins again

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Plus

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021