It’s another race weekend in Formula 1 once again, and this time the travelling circus has pitched it’s tents at the glorious Algarve International Circuit in Portugal.
Being the first Friday practice running we’ve seen since Russia after weather-related chaos hit the Nürburgring last time out, today’s action certainly did not disappoint as viewers were treated to drama throughout both sessions.
Amidst it all though, it was Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team’s Valtteri Bottas who prevailed and took the fastest time in both Free Practice One and Free Practice Two – retaining his rather flippant title of the ‘Friday World Champion’.
The circuit proved difficult for many drivers throughout the day, and we saw a handful of spins and incidents – not to mention a record sixty five lap times being deleted in the first session alone.
During morning running, drivers were aiming to test the track and learn all the intricacies of the difficult layout.
Almost all twenty drivers experienced either a trip across the gravel or a pirouette whilst finding the limits. Two notable spins were that of Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen, and the latter of the two was one of many to report the lack of grip on the recently resurfaced track.
On the weekend they announced their departure from Haas F1 Team at the end of 2020, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen experienced a relatively promising first session given the team’s current circumstances.
Magnussen finished fourteenth and ahead of Lance Stroll. Stroll’s replacement for last weekend Nico Hülkenberg also made an appearance in the morning – albeit trackside only.
In FP1, Bottas led teammate Lewis Hamilton by three tenths, with Verstappen, Leclerc, Alexander Albon and Carlos Sainz Jr. completing the top five.
Free Practice One Classified Leaderboard:
|1||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:18.410||35|
|2||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:18.749||0.339s||35|
|3||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1:19.191||0.781s||32|
|4||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1:19.309||0.899s||33|
|5||23||Alexander Albon||THA||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1:19.365||0.955s||34|
|6||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||McLaren F1 Team||1:19.441||1.031s||42|
|7||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||1:19.907||1.497s||31|
|8||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing||1:19.954||1.544s||35|
|9||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Renault DP World F1 Team||1:20.058||1.648s||27|
|10||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:20.124||1.714s||29|
|11||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Scuderia Ferrari||1:20.200||1.790s||37|
|12||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1:20.207||1.868s||29|
|13||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:20.278||1.868s||32|
|14||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1:20.846||2.436s||28|
|15||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||1:20.954||2.544s||32|
|16||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing||1:21.009||2.599s||35|
|17||8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Haas F1 Team||1:21.169||2.759s||31|
|18||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||1:21.374||2.964s||31|
|19||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Renault DP World F1 Team||1:21.673||3.263s||31|
|20||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1:22.054||3.644s||34|
But even after a multitude of incidents in the morning, Free Practice Two a few hours later proved to be far more exciting.
The first portion of the session was used to test the prototype tyres for next year, and so drivers and teams had to squeeze more than usual into the later stages of the afternoon running. Because of this, almost all drivers were on-circuit for the majority of their allocated time – leading to a few strange incidents.
Around an hour into the session, we saw the first red flag of the day after newly-inaugurated race winner Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri AT01 unexpectedly burst into flames towards the end of sector two.
The Frenchman was unharmed as he leapt out amidst the blaze, but the car was ruined and he will subsequently require an engine replacement after the failure.
As well as this, a second red flag was brought out after an unexpected crash between Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll.
Around the final few corners of the circuit, Verstappen let a flying Stroll past as the Canadian was on a timed lap. The Dutchman then opened DRS a few corners later on the main straight in an effort to try and re-overtake Stroll, who had just initiated a cooldown lap, so he could start his own flyer but the Racing Point driver did not yield into turn one and the pair collided spectacularly.
Stroll’s car was left beached, while a furious Verstappen managed to return to the pits.
The session concluded with a quiet ten minutes after the restart, and once more the Finn was on top. Bottas led from Verstappen, and a quick Lando Norris completed the top three. Charles Leclerc also did a standout job, finishing in the top five both times on Friday.
Free Practice Two Classified Leaderboard:
|1||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:17.940||32|
|2||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1:18.535||0.595s||34|
|3||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1:18.743||0.803s||35|
|4||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1:18.838||0.898s||34|
|5||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||McLaren F1 Team||1:19.113||1.173s||32|
|6||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Scuderia Ferrari||1:19.175||1.235s||34|
|7||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:19.178||1.238s||26|
|8||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:19.308||1.368s||27|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Renault DP World F1 Team||1:19.496||1.556s||32|
|10||23||Alexander Albon||THA||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1:19.643||1.703s||37|
|11||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||1:19.821||1.881s||33|
|12||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||1:19.901||1.961s||34|
|13||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Renault DP World F1 Team||1:19.987||2.047s||28|
|14||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1:20.465||2.525s||33|
|15||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing||1:20.490||2.550s||34|
|16||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1:20.680||2.740s||29|
|17||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:20.729||2.789s||33|
|18||8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Haas F1 Team||1:20.867||2.927s||32|
|19||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||1:20.983||3.043s||26|
|20||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing||1:21.396||3.456s||34|
Free practice Three begins at 11:00 BST tomorrow at the Algarve track.