Bottas and Hamilton lead the field in Silverstone FP1
Valtteri Bottas edged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the opening practice session for this weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The Finn’s 1m26.166s lap was 0.138s faster than Hamilton’s best effort, but the duo was over half a second clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in a session in which all competitors ran exclusively on Pirelli’s soft tyre.
Racing Point returnee Nico Hulkenberg was an impressive foruth as the German continued to get acquainted with his mount while fifth-placed Charles Leclerc was Ferrari’s fastest runner.
70th Anniversary Grand Prix Free Practice 1 – Results
The two main news pieces released to the F1 community on Friday morning were both related to Racing Point, with Nico Hulkenberg remaining in Sergio Perez’s seat this weekend and the team being handed a hefty fine and docked points for its brake ducts sage sparked by Renault.
And Robert Kubica was back for an FP1 outing, replacing Antonio Giovinazzi.
Other than that, it was business as usual for Silverstone’s second round of racing, the Northamptonshire track basking in 25°C and increasing.
As a reminder, the C2-C3-C4 tyre range being used this weekend if a step softer compared to last weekend’s selection. Given the warmer temperatures, rubber management will be paramount on Sunday.
Most drivers head out on the track for early explorations shod with Pirelli’s soft tyre. As the pace increased, Sebastian Vettel put himself at the top, but the German was quickly overhauled by his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc.
Vettel recouped the top spot however, but Leclerc went faster with a 1m27.544s while Mercedes’ chargers remained confined to their garage.
But 30 minutes into the session, the Black Arrows finally rolled down the pitlane and Hamilton, after getting up to speed, promptly roared to the top with a 1m26.842, shadowing Bottas by half a second with both drivers running on the soft tyre.
Relatively speaking, the times were already faster than Max Verstappen’s pace-setting 1m27.422s lap on the C3 tyre in last week’s FP1 session.
Speaking of the Dutchman, Verstappen remained ‘timeless’ as his crews focused on an apparent issue with the front suspension of his Red Bull RB16.
Meanwhile, Bottas stole Hamilton’s thunder while Hulkenberg became the third driver to dip into the 1m26s as the German continued to come to grips with his Racing Point RP20.But the Hulk was demoted from third shortly after by Verstappen once the latter got going.
Positions remained unchanged among the top five, with Hamilton thus outpacing Bottas, Verstappen, Hulkenberg and Leclerc.
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Albon, Vettel, Lance Stroll, Daniil Kvyat and Esteban Ocon rounded off the top ten while the Frenchman’s Renault teammate Daniel Ricciardo was a lowly P17.
In the McLaren camp, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz were respectively 12th and 14th as the papaya squad discarded outright speed for some fundamental aero work and tyre evaluation.
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