Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Autodromo do Algarve, 2021

Bottas pips Verstappen to fastest time in first practice

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix first practice

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Valtteri Bottas led a close first practice session at the Autodromo do Algarve in Portugal, pipping Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by two-hundredths of a second.

Daniel Ricciardo took an early lead in the times, setting a 1’21.821 time on his eighth lap on hard tyres. Last year drivers found it took multiple laps to get tyres into an operating window, especially noticeable at the race start and that seems consistent again at this year’s Portuguese Grand Prix. A lot of teams opened practice with relatively long runs with the hard tyres, looking for that window.

The low-grip circuit was a particular issue for Lewis Hamilton, who radio’d early to call the car “pretty undriveable.” His team told him that it was due to low surface temperatures, calling him back into the pits for further work.

Hamilton finished the session fifth, behind Bottas, both Red Bulls and Charles Leclerc, who set a good time for Ferrari. He was only four-hundredths off Perez’ third-fastest time and nearly eight-tenths ahead of team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr, who finished the session ninth.

Max Verstappen also struggled with his set-up, on the soft tyres. Verstappen said vibrations in the car were so severe he couldn’t see after just eight laps. Pirelli have brought their hardest compounds to Portimao this year, so although he was using the softest tyre available, it’s constructed from the C3 compound – which was the medium tyre at Imola.

Sebastian Vettel erroneously pulled up to the McLaren pit box halfway through the session, forgetting he no longer drives for the third-placed team. Fortunately, his current team Aston Martin are only in the garage next along from McLaren, whereas had he gone all the way to Ferrari’s position this year it might have been harder to correct; he joked on the radio that it “had to happen sometime.”

Callum Ilott ran first practice for Alfa Romeo, in for Antonio Giovinazzi. He did 18 laps over the session, finishing 18th and four-tenths behind Kimi Raikkonen. This was Ilott’s second attempt at an FP1 session after he was due to run for Haas at last year’s Eifel Grand Prix but the session was never green-lit due to weather conditions.

Pierre Gasly did the most laps of the session, at 24. Bottas finished the session ahead, setting his best time on soft tyres of a 1:19.648, followed by Verstappen and Perez within two tenths.

Report to follow

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix first practice result

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasMercedes1’19.64830
233Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’19.6730.02522
311Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’19.8460.19821
416Charles LeclercFerrari1’19.8840.23626
544Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’19.9670.31931
610Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’20.4440.79630
763George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’20.5290.88128
84Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’20.6350.98725
955Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’20.6801.03226
1031Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’20.8001.15226
1118Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’20.8941.24628
123Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’20.9951.34730
1322Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’21.0901.44227
1414Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’21.3031.65530
157Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’21.3811.73324
165Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’21.4051.75730
1798Callum IlottAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’21.8062.15821
1847Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’21.9392.29128
196Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’22.2932.64528
209Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’24.2244.57628

First practice visual gaps

Valtteri Bottas – 1’19.648

+0.025 Max Verstappen – 1’19.673

+0.198 Sergio Perez – 1’19.846

+0.236 Charles Leclerc – 1’19.884

+0.319 Lewis Hamilton – 1’19.967

+0.796 Pierre Gasly – 1’20.444

+0.881 George Russell – 1’20.529

+0.987 Lando Norris – 1’20.635

+1.032 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’20.680

+1.152 Esteban Ocon – 1’20.800

+1.246 Lance Stroll – 1’20.894

+1.347 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’20.995

+1.442 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’21.090

+1.655 Fernando Alonso – 1’21.303

+1.733 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’21.381

+1.757 Sebastian Vettel – 1’21.405

+2.158 Callum Ilott – 1’21.806

+2.291 Mick Schumacher – 1’21.939

+2.645 Nicholas Latifi – 1’22.293

+4.576 Nikita Mazepin – 1’24.224

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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23 comments on “Bottas pips Verstappen to fastest time in first practice”

  1. Russell just the 1.5 seconds quicker than Latifi then, and within 1 second of Bottas. Pretty impressive.

    1. @john-h Well, yes, but also Latifi’s best laps were deleted I believe so not entirely representative. Good performance by Williams.

      1. Ah fair enough @tflb. Hoping Latifi can show some of the pace he showed at Imola.

      2. What impresses me with George’s effort is he was the fastest of the Mercedes customer cars. I know we shouldn’t read a lot into these times, but I would have expected to have him behind the Aston Martins and the McLarens. If he can keep this up then I don’t see why he won’t get to Qualifying 3.

  2. Mazepin has his own speed!

    1. I had to look twice at the visual gap chart to see what you meant :)

      1. Ahah, yes, really unimpressed by his debut, both mistakes and very slow as well, it’s not like schumacher jr. is schumacher sr. by the looks of it, obviously they also have a bad car, but being beaten that heavily by a normal team mate is absurd!

  3. Dear friends, Lewis is trying to help make Bottas look good by lifting off, so Toto will keep Valteri on as team mate.
    I expect this lifting off to go on all weekend. Naturally in Q3 Lewis will speed up just slightly to beat Max and slot in behind Bottas. I don’t think any friends here will disagree, just don’t tell Russell.

    1. That isn’t happening. I’m more worried you think it is.

      1. This is the same poster who was expressing outrage that the climate at Portimao was daring to do what it normally does at this time of year, as apparently not being scorching heat is outrageous luck for Hamilton, rather than being a total freak event.

    2. Lewis is better at getting things set up nicely without having to push as hard. He’ll manage his pace and his car until Q3 when he’ll suddenly be a few tenths ahead of Bottas. I don’t think Hamilton is doing anything to protect Bottas – we’ve seen him lead for most of the weekend before until we get to Q3.

      I highly doubt Bottas will be on the front row for the start and if he is, he won’t be in the top 2 by the time they reach the first turn.

    3. Ah Rodber, nice to see you’re back to your usual Hamilton comments. Bit of a relief to be honest.

    4. This is the legendary British humour? I think Lewis was just doing setup work so expect a much beter time from him.

    5. Hamilton lives inside your head. Rent free.

    6. Is this your way of saying you never watched P1?

  4. Might be worth tweaking the 10 second cut-off for the graph. Mazepin’s embarrassingly slow time makes it harder to see the gaps between the others. Could we maybe have filters on these so we can filter him out and see the gaps between the competent drivers more easily?

  5. Have to say, both Illot and Schumacher were good. So too was Russel.
    Really worried about Vettel and Alonso.

    1. It’s just practice though, I don’t take practice 1 and 2 seriously at all, practice 3 a bit more seriously, then again q1 and q2 for the top teams isn’t to be taken seriously, can only look at q3 and race, while the minor teams will push more in q1 and q2.

  6. I thought they had determined that the issue with Verstappens tyres was the loss of a wheel weight, hence the vibration. Added to this, despite severe vibration affecting Verstappen’s visibility, he was purple through the first 2 sectors and only 0.025 off Bottas..

    1. @maddme I read that he had flat spotted his tire. I note also that both RBR drivers did 8-10 laps fewer than both Merc drivers. As well RBR has an upgrade and SP was using a sensor rake on his car in his initial laps to help confirm their upgrade’s virtues.

  7. Oh, wow. Mazepin is dreadfully slow. The gap between him and Mick is jaw dropping.

  8. Jose Lopes da Silva
    1st May 2021, 7:55

    A superb globe slap by Illot to Mazepin.

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