Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2020

Bottas heads quiet first practice as teams avoid harder tyres

2020 70th Anniversary Grand Prix first practice

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Valtteri Bottas headed a quiet first practice session as activity resumed at Silverstone ahead of this weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver set a benchmark time of 1’26.166 on soft compound tyres. All 20 drivers used this compound exclusively during the opening 90 minutes of running.

Formula 1’s official tyre supplier Pirelli has brought a softer mix of compounds for this weekend’s race compared to those use last weekend. Each driver has just two sets of hards (which are last week’s mediums) and three sets of mediums (last week’s softs) to see them through the weekend. With the new soft tyre proving very fragile, teams appeared keen to preserve their stocks of the more durable rubber.

Last weekend’s winner Lewis Hamilton lapped a tenth of a second slower than his team mate, completing another practice one-two for Mercedes.

Max Verstappen preferred not to set a time in the first half of the session, covering a series of installation laps instead. Once he got going, the Red Bull driver took up his increasingly customary position as ‘best of the rest’ behind the two W11s, seven tenths of a second adrift.

He had Nico Hulkenberg in close company. The Racing Point driver, back in Sergio Perez’s seat for a second weekend, rounded Silverstone just five hundredths of a second slower than the Red Bull, and took it with quiet resolve when his race engineer accidentally referred to him as ‘Checo’.

Charles Leclerc ensured one of the Ferraris appeared in the top five. Team mate Sebastian Vettel was only two places behind him, though the pair were separated by more than four tenths of a second, plus Alexander Albon’s Red Bull. The second Racing Point of Lance Stroll took eighth.

The top 10 was completed by Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri and Esteban Ocon’s Renault. Drivers struggled for grip as the drivers wore down their softs towards the end of the session, and Ocon slithered wide at Brooklands. Pierre Gasly, 11th quickest, dived for the pits with what looked like a line of blistering down the middle of his right-rear Pirelli.

Neither McLaren driver appeared in the top 10, and the Alfa Romeo pair propped up the bottom of the times sheets. Robert Kubica, on reserve driver duties again in place on Antonio Giovinazzi, was just three tenths of a second shy of Kimi Raikkonen.

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First practice classification

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasMercedes1’26.16620
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’26.3040.13822
333Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’26.8930.72723
427Nico HulkenbergRacing Point-Mercedes1’26.9420.77624
516Charles LeclercFerrari1’27.0620.89619
623Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’27.2801.11421
75Sebastian VettelFerrari1’27.4981.33220
818Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’27.5391.37325
926Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri-Honda1’27.6531.48726
1031Esteban OconRenault1’27.7011.53522
1110Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’27.7071.54123
124Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’27.8461.68025
138Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’27.9081.74225
1455Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’28.1381.97227
1563George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’28.1702.00423
166Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’28.2262.06023
173Daniel RicciardoRenault1’28.5112.34522
187Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’28.6552.48923
1988Robert KubicaAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’28.9602.79422
2020Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’29.3193.15317

First practice visual gaps

Valtteri Bottas – 1’26.166

+0.138 Lewis Hamilton – 1’26.304

+0.727 Max Verstappen – 1’26.893

+0.776 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’26.942

+0.896 Charles Leclerc – 1’27.062

+1.114 Alexander Albon – 1’27.280

+1.332 Sebastian Vettel – 1’27.498

+1.373 Lance Stroll – 1’27.539

+1.487 Daniil Kvyat – 1’27.653

+1.535 Esteban Ocon – 1’27.701

+1.541 Pierre Gasly – 1’27.707

+1.680 Lando Norris – 1’27.846

+1.742 Romain Grosjean – 1’27.908

+1.972 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’28.138

+2.004 George Russell – 1’28.170

+2.060 Nicholas Latifi – 1’28.226

+2.345 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’28.511

+2.489 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’28.655

+2.794 Robert Kubica – 1’28.960

+3.153 Kevin Magnussen – 1’29.319

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2020 70th Anniversary 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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7 comments on “Bottas heads quiet first practice as teams avoid harder tyres”

  1. Bravo Nico Hulkenberg, he’s improving by miles.

  2. There was a Lewis onboard that looked like running on jelly. 10 laps per tyre is a bit quiet. Will these tyres do a quicker Q lap than the medium?

  3. Each driver has just two sets of hards (which are last week’s mediums)

    But of course, such a common sense naming convention.

  4. Definitely looks like a more representative time for both Hulkenberg and Racing Point this week. Shows what a difference some prep in the simulator and reliable driver feedback can make

    1. Really looking forward to RP having a good result.

  5. The soft’s were starting to fall to bits before even completing a full lap.

    Paul Di Resta brought up the prospect that the medium or even the hards may end up been a faster tyre over a full lap in qualifying with teams avoiding the soft’s after practice.

    If that is the case then it’s going to really hurt those at the tail end of the top 10 who may need to run the soft’s to make it into Q3 only to then be left with an awful unsuitable race tyre in the first stint of the race. Just further highlights why that rule forcing them to start on the Q2 tyre is so silly & needs to go away!

    1. If the tyre falls apart on the installation lap, they’ll all use the medium to get into Q3.

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