Bottas lords over the first free practice

Bottas lords over the first free practice

A one-two for Mercedes at the FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA EMIRATES 2018 first free practice, on the day Robert Kubica is back at the wheel.

Formula 1

Formula One inaugurates its European leg at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya after the first four races of the season. As traditionally, most teams brought their major or minor updates to Barcelona, and they started sizing each other up in the first free practice for the Spanish Grand Prix. Valtteri Bottas lead a one-two for the Mercedes AMG Petronas outfit on a 1m18.148s, leading the way to Lewis Hamilton (1:18.997).

One of the teams introducing major changes, McLaren, presented a radically revamped nose which necessarily redefines the car’s aerodynamics. Their top man, Fernando Alonso, was the first driver to take the pulse of a track resurfaced right before the winter tests. His purpose: amassing data to check it against simulator information, and then verify tyre behaviour. The double world champion finished sixth fastest on a 1m19.858s.

The vast majority of the 20 World Championship drivers picked medium and soft tyres, with as little as six opting for the supersoft (as the rest saved them for the afternoon second free practice). Sebastian Vettel (Scuderia Ferrari) was third overall on supersoft rubber, trailing Bottas by 0.950 seconds. Max Verstappen (Aston Martin Red Bull) wrapped up fourth, 1.039s behind, followed by Kimi Raikkonen supersoft-tyre clad Ferrari, which finished 1.351 slower.

Carlos Sainz set out to test the supersoft tyres and wore them completely off. The Spanish Renault driver, whose outstanding performance in Baku earned him a fantastic fifth place, ended 15th fastest this morning, on a 1m21.053s lap.

One of the highlights of the day was watching Robert Kubica back in a single seater after his accident seven years ago. He was replacing Russian Sergey Sirotkin, who will regain his wheel in Free Practice 2. The Pole’s reappearance for Williams Martini Racing concluded as 19th fastest (most remarkably, 1.246s ahead of team mate Lance Stroll). Kubica will be back next week for the tests scheduled after the Spanish Grand Prix.

Stroll crashed out in Turn 5 with 25 minutes of FP1 left. He was not alone in the incidents’ list: Daniel Ricciardi (Aston Martin Red Bull) took farewell in tricky Turn 4, where several drivers run into trouble. The sessions was particularly eventful, marked with a dozen spins and offs, partly due to the pollen built up on the tarmac and to the gusty winds.

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