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.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasMercedes1’28.73126
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’28.8070.07625
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1’29.7200.98926
416Charles LeclercFerrari1’29.9121.18120
533Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’30.0461.31522
623Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’30.3751.64424
755Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’30.7021.97121
811Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’30.8102.07921
918Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’30.9592.22827
104Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’31.0012.27024
118Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’31.2832.55225
127Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’31.3072.57627
1327Nico HulkenbergRenault1’31.4262.69529
143Daniel RicciardoRenault1’31.5632.83225
1520Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’31.7853.05422
1626Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Honda1’31.9203.18923
1738Naoki YamamotoToro Rosso-Honda1’32.0183.28730
1863George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’32.8004.06923
1988Robert KubicaWilliams-Mercedes1’33.4844.75327
2099Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’36.8878.1564

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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