FP1: Under-fire Bottas sets the pace in Spain

Date published: May 7 2021 - Michelle Foster

Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas topped the timesheet in FP1 in Spain as Nikita Mazepin once again irked a rival and Robert Kubica brought out the red flags.

Unlike in the past 10 years, the drivers saw the Barcelona circuit for the first time this year as they took to the track for FP1 for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez was the first to do in installation lap, Robert Kubica, in for Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo just for the session, was the first to set a time, a 1:27.006, and Nikita Mazepin was the first in trouble as he lost it at Turn 8.

Back on the track Mazepin was also the first to be criticised by a rival driver with Charles Leclerc feeling that the Haas driver had ruined his lap.

With all the firsts played out, it was left to Red Bull, running updates on their RB16B, to battle Mercedes for P1.

Lewis Hamilton hit the front, Max Verstappen took over, Fernando Alonso on the soft tyres briefly upset the story line, and Hamilton on the hard tyres hit back with a 1:19.675.

While Perez was one of the last to set a time, only beginning his programme 20 minutes into the session, Verstappen also spent a bit of time in the garage after he damaged his front wing on the kerbs at Turn 7.

Sebastian Vettel joined Alonso on the soft tyres and laid down a 1:19.234 to go P1, not a position he is used to in the last year and a bit. He wasn’t up in P1 for long, though, as Hamilton bolted on a set of softs and did a 1:18.808.

Hamilton lowered the benchmark before Bottas bettered it with a 1:18.504, 0.123s up on his team-mate. Lando Norris, who was testing McLaren’s new floor, was third fastest. The Red Bulls, though, were yet to do a soft tyre run.

The red flag was out with 17 minutes on the clock after Kubica lost the rears and spun off into the Turn 10 gravel. “I’m stuck,” he told Alfa Romeo.

The session went green with nine minutes to go with the Red Bull drivers doing their soft runs. Verstappen went second to split the Mercedes drivers, 0.033s down on Bottas, while Perez was only P9.

Norris finished P4 ahead of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz on the mediums. Pierre Gasly, Vettel, Perez and Lance Stroll completed the top ten.

Bottas ended his session with a close encounter with Leclerc while Perez gave Daniel Ricciardo an angry gesture.

Times

1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:18.504 25 laps soft tyres
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.033s 19 laps soft tyres
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.123s 22 laps soft tyres
4 Lando Norris McLaren 0.440s 23 laps soft tyres
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.492s 24 laps medium tyres
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.516s 21 laps medium tyres
7 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 0.558s 26 laps soft tyres
8 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 0.730s 23 laps soft tyres
9 Sergio Perez Red Bull 0.845s 17 laps soft tyres
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 0.925s 24 laps soft tyres
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1.165s 21 laps soft tyres
12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1.190s 22 laps soft tyres
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.228s 23 laps soft tyres
14 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1.446s 24 laps soft tyres
15 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1.452s 24 laps soft tyres
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1.766s 25 laps soft tyres
17 Roy Nissany Williams 2.196s 22 laps soft tyres
18 Mick Schumacher Haas 2.262s 23 laps soft tyres
19 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo Racing 3.383s 13 laps hard tyres
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas 3.472s 22 laps soft tyres

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