FP1: No surprises as Mercedes claims the 1-2

Michelle Foster
Valtteri Bottas soft Pirelli tyres

Valtteri Bottas soft Pirelli tyres

Mercedes picked up where they left off at Silverstone on Friday, but without the tyre failures, once again the team to beat.

Formula 1 returned to the Silverstone circuit for the start of the British GP part two, otherwise called the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

Nico Hulkenberg was back in the Racing Point RP20, once again filling in for Sergio Perez after the Mexican driver recorded a second positive Covid-19 test.

That, though, wasn’t the big news in the build up to FP1 with the FIA ruling on Renault’s Racing Point protests.

In a nutshell, the front brake ducts are legit, the rears are not. The team has lost 15 points and been fined 400,000 Euros.

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But while Racing Point and Renault, both of whom could yet appeal, read through the FIA’s 14-page PDF, the pit lane light went from red to green for the start of FP1.

Kimi Raikkonen had a bit of early excitement as the Alfa Romeo driver ran wide at the Loop, using the full run-off area to the outside of Aintree.

After last Sunday’s tyre failures the drivers were quickly out onto the track on the soft tyres, which this weekend are a step softer than the ones run at the British GP, laying down laps not so much for lap time but to check the durability.

One of those was Sebastian Vettel, who last Friday only completed two laps in FP1 due to an intercooler problem. He was P2 in the early running with Charles Leclerc quickest with a 1:27.544.

And then Mercedes ventured out.

Lewis Hamilton, who took pole position and the win last weekend, and Valtteri Bottas immediately went 1-2 with Hamilton quickest on a 1:26.8. Bottas was half a second down.

10 laps into his run and Pierre Gasly reported that the “front left is already a bit damaged”. He headed back to the pits along with the rest of the field at the 40-minute mark, the time that the drivers have to return their first set of tyres to Pirelli.

Despite covering 10 laps, Max Verstappen had yet to set a time at that point.

Back out on track on a fresh set of soft tyres, Bottas went purple, purple and purple on his way to a 1:26.1. Hamilton responded with a purple middle sector and a 1:26.3 as he had a bit of understeer through the penultimate corner.

The FIA was once again clamping down on track limits with Raikkonen and Kevin Magnussen having their lap times deleted for running wide at Copse.

Adding insult to injury, Magnussen reported after his lap that he had “quite a big flat spot from locking up into the Club chicane.

Hulkenberg shot up the timesheet to third place, 0.7s down on Bottas’ best while on the hour mark Verstappen finally clocked his first lap time of the session, a 1:26.9 to take third off Hulkenberg.

Slowing down after his lap, Verstappen and a close encounter with Leclerc. He told Red BUll: “Can you tell me when you see another car, I didn’t see that Ferrari.”

Leclerc in fifth place was the only other driver to get within a second of Bottas’ P1 time, 0.9s down.

Alexander Albon was sixth fastest ahead of Vettel, Lance Stroll, Daniil Kvyat and Esteban Ocon.

Several drivers, including Gasly and Carlos Sainz, complained about their “rear left” tyres being destroyed by the end of the session.

Alfa Romeo had test driver Robert Kubica in the car on Friday as the team tries to resolve its on-going issues with the C38. He finished in 19th place, one position behind Raikkonen. Magnussen was slowest of all.

1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:26.166 20 laps
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.138s 21 laps
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.727s 23 laps
4 Nico Hulkenberg Racing Point 0.776s 23 laps
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.896s 19 laps
6 Alex Albon Red Bull 1.114s 21 laps
7 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1.332s 19 laps
8 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1.373s 25 laps
9 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 1.487s 26 laps
10 Esteban Ocon Renault 1.535s 22 laps
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.541s 23 laps
12 Lando Norris McLaren 1.680s 25 laps
13 Romain Grosjean Haas 1.742s 25 laps
14 Carlos Sainz McLaren 1.972s 27 laps
15 George Russell Williams 2.004s 23 laps
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams 2.060s 23 laps
17 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 2.345s 22 laps
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 2.489s 23 laps
19 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo Racing 2.794s 21 laps
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 3.153s 17 laps

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