Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Mercedes well ahead as Bottas leads one-two in first practice

2019 Japanese Grand Prix first practice

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Valtteri Bottas was ahead by almost a second over his closest non-Mercedes rival as practice began for the Japanese Grand Prix.

While the two silver cars sat on top of the times, Lewis Hamilton a few hundredths of a second behind his team mate, the pair had over nine tenths of a second in hand over the competition. Mercedes ran new sidepod upgrades on their W10s.

The chasing pack was led by Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel ahead of Charles Leclerc, and Red Bull, Max Verstappen leading Alexander Albon. Bottas had a close encounter with Leclerc during the session in the middle of Spoon curve, where he locked a front-left tyre as he caught the Ferrari.

Despite an electrical problem forcing him to stop within moments of the session beginning, Carlos Sainz Jnr put his McLaren ‘best of the rest’ in seventh place. Team mate Lando Norris backed him up in tenth place, the pair split by the two Racing Points.

Antonio Giovinazzi had a more serious problem in his Alfa Romeo. He toured back into the pits after four laps and did not re-emerge.

Following the announcement that final practice will be cancelled, teams took the opportunity to cover extra running in the first 90-minute session.

Naoki Yamamoto gave a good account of himself in his F1 practice debut, at a track where the Super Formula champion has won five times in that category since 2013. He ended the session within a tenth of a second of team mate Daniil Kvyat, although the latter ended the session running the medium compound tyres, while Yamamoto favoured softs.

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Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’28.731 26
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’28.807 0.076 25
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’29.720 0.989 26
4 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’29.912 1.181 20
5 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1’30.046 1.315 22
6 23 Alexander Albon Red Bull-Honda 1’30.375 1.644 24
7 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr McLaren-Renault 1’30.702 1.971 21
8 11 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1’30.810 2.079 21
9 18 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1’30.959 2.228 27
10 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1’31.001 2.270 24
11 8 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1’31.283 2.552 25
12 7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’31.307 2.576 27
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1’31.426 2.695 29
14 3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1’31.563 2.832 25
15 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1’31.785 3.054 22
16 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1’31.920 3.189 23
17 38 Naoki Yamamoto Toro Rosso-Honda 1’32.018 3.287 30
18 63 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1’32.800 4.069 23
19 88 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1’33.484 4.753 27
20 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’36.887 8.156 4

First practice visual gaps

Valtteri Bottas – 1’28.731

+0.076 Lewis Hamilton – 1’28.807

+0.989 Sebastian Vettel – 1’29.720

+1.181 Charles Leclerc – 1’29.912

+1.315 Max Verstappen – 1’30.046

+1.644 Alexander Albon – 1’30.375

+1.971 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’30.702

+2.079 Sergio Perez – 1’30.810

+2.228 Lance Stroll – 1’30.959

+2.270 Lando Norris – 1’31.001

+2.552 Romain Grosjean – 1’31.283

+2.576 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’31.307

+2.695 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’31.426

+2.832 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’31.563

+3.054 Kevin Magnussen – 1’31.785

+3.189 Daniil Kvyat – 1’31.920

+3.287 Naoki Yamamoto – 1’32.018

+4.069 George Russell – 1’32.800

+4.753 Robert Kubica – 1’33.484

+8.156 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’36.887

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2019 Japanese 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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8 comments on “Mercedes well ahead as Bottas leads one-two in first practice”

  1. Go Lewis go

  2. from the looks of the merc, they’ve adapted to the new schedule pretty quickly. still favourite as always.
    unfortunately some drivers had little to no running, this is not russia, one mistake and the shortened weekend becomes even shorter.
    fom kept the new bottas onboard for russia, now put it on all cars. new angles for this track, long shots, but mid session the shakes came back and cropping the cars so you don’t see the action.

  3. Just when the battle at the front was getting good…Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come for this weekend and the rest of 2019.

    1. Remember, Mercedes think they aren’t favorites to win any of the coming races… :/

  4. Aha, this week Hamilton said Ferrari are faster than Mercedes.

    First session their car is 1s infront of Ferrari. Meh :D when will I finally stop believing anything they say.

    1. Merc is and always will be, full of crap. They lie constantly and poor mouth their true pace and quality. It’s reason #1,711 that I hate that team.

    2. I wonder what Wolff and Hamilton will say after the 1-2
      “We were surprised Ferrari weren’t faster because of their straight line speed in this track with mostly high speed sweeping corners that favour down force”
      “The upgrades worked better than we hoped but we expected Ferrari to make up 8tenths of a second at 130R which is essentially a long straight”
      “For sure the Ferraris are hiding their true pace, we’ll see them unleash it at the start and we have to cover to protect from that”

  5. Ferrari sand bagging. They are the new Mercedes.

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