Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Bottas beats track record while Ricciardo crashes

2018 Spanish Grand Prix first practice

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Valtteri Bottas set a rapid pace in the first practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix and beat the previous track record at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The Mercedes driver set a best time of 1’18.148 on the soft tyres, beating the previous record of 1’19.149 which was established Lewis Hamilton set pole position for last year’s race.

The first 90 minutes of running on the surfaced track in windy conditions was a lively affair. Daniel Ricciardo caused a Virtual Safety Car period when his Red Bull got away from him at turn four and made light contact with the barrier.

He was far from the only driver to be caught out by his car. Lance Stroll provoked another VSC period later in the session when he spun his Williams into the gravel. Robert Kubica, who made his return to official F1 action for the first time since 2010, also had a spin in the other Williams.

The Mercedes pair topped the times but Hamilton was over eight tenths of a second slower than his team mate. Sebastian Vettel was next, the only other driver to get within a second of Bottas.

Fernando Alonso was a strong sixth fastest for McLaren as they evaluated the radical new nose design on their MCL33. Team mate Stoffel Vandoorne joined him in the top 10.

Kevin Magnussen and Charles Leclerc were just outside the top 10 but came dangerously close to each other on track. Leclerc pulled out to pass Magnussen who then moved away from the racing line at the end of the straight, forcing the angry Sauber driver to back off.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasMercedes1’18.14832
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’18.9970.84922
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1’19.0980.95024
433Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’19.1871.03926
57Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’19.4991.35119
614Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Renault1’19.8581.71026
73Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’19.8711.72311
88Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’19.9061.75824
92Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren-Renault1’20.0831.93528
1010Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’20.5082.36029
1120Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’20.6372.48928
1216Charles LeclercSauber-Ferrari1’20.6652.51723
1311Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’20.9242.77636
149Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’20.9842.83618
1555Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’21.0532.90528
1631Esteban OconForce India-Mercedes1’21.1442.99627
1727Nico HulkenbergRenault1’21.1593.01126
1828Brendon HartleyToro Rosso-Honda1’21.3733.22528
1940Robert KubicaWilliams-Mercedes1’21.5103.36224
2018Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes1’22.7564.60815

First practice visual gaps

Valtteri Bottas – 1’18.148

+0.849 Lewis Hamilton – 1’18.997

+0.950 Sebastian Vettel – 1’19.098

+1.039 Max Verstappen – 1’19.187

+1.351 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’19.499

+1.710 Fernando Alonso – 1’19.858

+1.723 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’19.871

+1.758 Romain Grosjean – 1’19.906

+1.935 Stoffel Vandoorne – 1’20.083

+2.360 Pierre Gasly – 1’20.508

+2.489 Kevin Magnussen – 1’20.637

+2.517 Charles Leclerc – 1’20.665

+2.776 Sergio Perez – 1’20.924

+2.836 Marcus Ericsson – 1’20.984

+2.905 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’21.053

+2.996 Esteban Ocon – 1’21.144

+3.011 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’21.159

+3.225 Brendon Hartley – 1’21.373

+3.362 Robert Kubica – 1’21.510

+4.608 Lance Stroll – 1’22.756

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2018 Spanish Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “Bottas beats track record while Ricciardo crashes”

  1. All aboard the Kubica hype train haha #FP1timesmeaneverything

    1. The hype is real!

      Seriously though, its a crying shame hes not in a race car – if I was HAAS, Renault or even Ferrari, I’d be asking about him for next year.

      1. Renault evaluated him last year and decided against giving him a seat…

    2. @victor

      No. Would rather miss that train. #FP1timesmeannothing

  2. Williams performance notwithstanding, it is not looking good for Mr Stroll.

    1. SparkyAMG (@)
      11th May 2018, 12:08


      Kubica was running the upgraded Williams, however I suspect he’d have been faster than Stroll anyway.

      1. GS (@gsagostinho)
        11th May 2018, 12:13

        @sparkyamg Were they on the same tires? Because if so, then either the Williams has a mighty upgrade that will give them 1.2 seconds advantage over their previous car or one of these two drivers is clearly of a different calibre than the other. And I strongly suspect one of these two possibilities is quite more likely than the other.

        1. SparkyAMG (@)
          11th May 2018, 12:24


          I think it’s more a case of Stroll retiring from the session before the track was at it’s quickest. IIRC they were separated by a tenth of a second at the time Stroll binned it.

          1. GS (@gsagostinho)
            11th May 2018, 12:26

            @sparkyamg I see, thanks for the information, I appreciate it.

          2. @gsagostinho and @sparkyamg

            I can’t check right now because internet is bad where I am. You have a good metric for comparison if you look at the winter testing times.

            Being beaten by an old man with one hand is always going to be embarrassing though. Luckily everybody still believes Kubica is still highly capable or this would be really bad for LS.

          3. @sparkyamg
            Stroll was only ahead because Kubica spun in the final sector, he was half a second up on the Canadian when both were on their first hot lap on the second run there. It’s not helping Stroll’s and Sirotkin’s reputation.

          4. SparkyAMG (@)
            11th May 2018, 13:31


            And Kubica was running the upgrades, as already stated. No point in comparing them.

        2. @Sparky, no one knows if the upgrades were faster or slower. And YES people can say kubica drove better, firstly he does not race every fortnight and know the car as well as stroll, and secondly kubica did not crash the car out of Fp1 like stroll did, losing valuable time and data for the team (again)

  3. Why is it always K-Mag?

    1. He’s leaving one day…

  4. Once the wall changed direction, Ricciardo had nowhere to go

    1. He lost downforce when he got near the wall, so it wasn´t his fault

    2. That joke would have worked with ‘wind’ instead of ‘wall’.

      1. @faulty Yeah, or racing line. Kinda regret it now.

    3. Hey, look who’s back. Is Baku (and the first three GPs) still hurting?

  5. Wow, a low-1m18s in FP1 already! Yes, the tarmac was resurfaced during the off-season, but still, I didn’t expect a low-18 this early into the race weekend, LOL. BTW, the ‘unofficial’ outright lap record is still yet to be beaten actually. Still approximately a second off it. An outright lap record for any given circuit is the fastest ever lap time set in any given session whether it be a qualifying, race, practice, or a test session, so ‘technically,’ Seb’s low-1m17s lap time from the penultimate day of the pre-season testing phase still holds that record, but could very well get beaten by the end of qualifying.

    1. @jerejj There’s a difference between the track record which can be set at any official times session, like for example the Porsche 919 EVO attempt at Spa, or the Formula One track record, which can only be set in the GP.

      1. And there are always weird rules per track as to what is a record, multiple tracks only include qualifying or race laps as fastest, and then add in what rules each series has for their fastest and it’s a why bother exercise, or more likely an exercise in pedantry for those who feel inclined.

      2. @flatsix The official test day sessions are official sessions as well. Nevertheless, the fastest pre-season testing lap is still the fastest ever lap set in any session by an F1 car around this circuit, i.e., ‘technically’ the outright record even if some people don’t want to regard it as the holder of the ‘outright’ lap record. The technicality is what matters in the end.

        1. @jerejj Yes, that’s what I’m saying. There is the track record (whatever car, day, driver) and the F1 track record which is only set during a GP.

    2. Smedley was saying today that when ferrari tested slicks on their 2008 car, Felipe massa was doing 1.17s

  6. Merc is waking. Ferrari better get a bigger gun.

    1. Yeah. The bespoke Merc tyres Pirelli produced are working well for Merc.

  7. Track became better at the end of the session. Red Bull on Medium tyre on the long run went better and better.

    Willems no improvement what so ever compaired with the winter test.

  8. Encouraging performance for McLaren. Hope the trend continues!

    1. Going by where Vandoorne stands, it seems that the upgrade is useful.

  9. Something to note for those trying to compare the Williams times, Kubica was running the new aero package while Stroll was still running the old one.

    That on top of the other usual practice variables like fuel loads, run plans etc… makes any real comparison impossible.

    I think the only conclusions we can draw is that the Williams doesn’t look good around here, Easily looked like the worst car out there regardless of who was in it.

  10. I don’t expect Williams to be top of the midfield but they should at least beat STR-Honda, no? The Mercedes engine alone is half the battle won…

    1. @flatsix I think the Mercedes engine is perhaps what helped them look more competitive in Baku.

      Watching some OnBoard stuff during FP1 I think it’s pretty clear that there car is severely lacking downforce & on top of that also overall balance. Car just looks a handful, Especially in the medium/high speed stuff where downforce is more important.

    2. 2 x Renualt Powered cars
      3 x Ferrari powered cars
      4 x Mercedes Powered Cars

      Could not beat the lead Honda powered car…. but both Mclarens did…..

  11. More to come but not nice seeing those huge gaps between Merc and their nearest competitors same again between the latter and the midfield teams and then the bottom teams. It takes a massive edge off being excited for McLaren.

    1. it is just FP1, in Baku the Ferrari where out of the top 10 in that session.

      Regardless I expect a step in performance from the Mercs.

      The Sauber looked good too

  12. One has to admire K-Mags consistency…race or practice, if you try to pass him he’s going to take you out.

    1. @velocityboy Grosjean is also very consistant in his performances…

Comments are closed.