Valtteri Bottas led the charts as he was able to overcome the challenge from Max Verstappen to claim the top spot in the opening practice hour at the Algarve circuit. The young Dutchman suffered bad vibrations which hampered his speed.
Something that caught the eye was Carlos Sainz leaving behind a piece of Ferrari gear behind as he exited the pit lane. The rest of the field had to take evasive action before stewards managed to remove it from the circuit.
Turn 4’s track limits forced both Charles Leclerc and Sainz wide, which jeopardised their run. Bottas’ Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton constantly seemed to be having some problem with the car. “The balance is pretty undrivable now,” he said before returning to the pits. He notched a P4.
Verstappen only entered the fray after the Mercedes drivers had completed 8 laps. He soon recorded the fastest lap with a 1:21.053.
Bottas soon returned with the best speed of the day with a 1:20.506.
However, what was most peculiar was Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel pulling up for a pitstop at McLaren. As it so turned out, this was due to him being confused since this was where his former team Ferrari was located last year. He seemed to see the funny side of it.
Meanwhile, as the battle for top spot intensified, Verstappen was able to maintain top spot for a while despite being on hard tyres. The advantage of soft tyres at this circuit is so big that George Russell was able to move ahead of Hamilton in fourth after making the change.
However, it didn’t pan out quite as wonderfully as Verstappen would have hoped. When he made a switch to soft tyres, he let his team know that he had a bad vibration while he was still in his flying lap. “I can’t even see where I’m going,” he said. While he was able to close the gap on Bottas who was leading, he then said, “Impossible to drive”.
Meanwhile, Perez finished the session in third spot. Hamilton, Leclerc and Gasly rounded off the top 6.
You can never leave out Nikita Mazepin. The Haas driver was visibly annoyed with teammate Mick Schumacher. He was recently unhappy that Mick was enjoying an added benefit through Ferrari. When the German passed him, he said, “What the hell is he doing?”
The engineer replied, saying that Schumacher was on a double push. He made his feelings known that he wanted such information to be conveyed to him in advance in the future. He ended the session in last spot.
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:19.648 30 laps
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.025s 22 laps
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull 0.198s 21 laps
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.236s 26 laps
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.319s 31 laps
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 0.796s 30 laps
7 George Russell Williams 0.881s 28 laps
8 Lando Norris McLaren 0.987s 25 laps
9 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1.032s 26 laps
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1.152s 26 laps
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1.246s 28 laps
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.347s 29 laps
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1.442s 27 laps
14 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1.655s 30 laps
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1.733s 24 laps
16 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1.757s 30 laps
17 Callum Ilott Alfa Romeo Racing 2.158s 21 laps
18 Mick Schumacher Haas 2.291s 28 laps
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams 2.645s 28 laps
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas 4.576s 29 laps