FP1: Bottas heads Verstappen and Leclerc in first practice at Mugello
Valtteri Bottas topped the first-ever FP1 session at Mugello for Mercedes with Max Verstappen second for Red Bull and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc third, with the Scuderia celebrating their 1000th World Championship race in this weekend's Tuscan Grand Prix.
This low-downforce, high-speed circuit, which is owned by Ferrari, was used by the Scuderia for a filming day earlier this year and was last graced by multiple F1 cars in 2012 for in-season testing – but has never hosted an F1 Grand Prix.
The cars hit the track for the first time in anger on Friday morning for FP1, and once soft tyres were bolted on halfway into the 90-minute session, it was Bottas who set the fastest time of 1m17.879s – just 0.048s quicker than Verstappen’s.
READ MORE: Leclerc anticipating ‘more positive’ weekend for Ferrari at 1000th Grand Prix celebration
Leclerc, in his retro-liveried Ferrari, managed to lap faster than Lewis Hamilton (P4) to take third spot in an encouraging session for the Italian team ahead of their anniversary race, albeit 0.307s off Bottas’s table-topping time. Hamilton was half a second behind his team mate.
Last week’s Italian Grand Prix winner Pierre Gasly took fifth, 0.797s off the top, for AlphaTauri – ahead of compatriot Esteban Ocon for Renault. Gasly’s team mate Daniil Kvyat was the last driver within a second of Bottas, finishing 0.960s off in P7.
Eighth was Lando Norris, who began the session by singing over the radio, clearly jubilant to hit this stunning Tuscan track for the first time in an F1 car. He finished just under a tenth ahead of Red Bull’s Alex Albon.
Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 10 for Renault, with 1.261s splitting him and Bottas.
READ MORE: 'It can't get any worse than Monza' says Verstappen as he predicts Red Bull revival in Mugello
Kimi Raikkonen, on the 20th anniversary of his maiden F1 test at this very track, was the fastest Alfa Romeo in 11th, his team mate Antonio Giovinazzi taking P14. Between them were fellow Ferrari-powered drivers Romain Grosjean for Haas in 12th and Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, in 13th.
Aston Martin-bound Vettel may have finished more than 1.3s slower than his team mate but the two Ferrari drivers were running significantly different programmes in FP1 – the German using hards for the first half of the session, with his team mate Leclerc using mediums.
FORMULA 1 PIRELLI GRAN PREMIO DELLA TOSCANA FERRARI 1000 2020
Practice 1 results
|1 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes||1:17.879|
|2 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||+0.048s|
|3 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari||+0.307s|
|4 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||+0.530s|
|5 Pierre Gasly GAS AlphaTauri||+0.797s|
Carlos Sainz, fresh from P2 in last week's Italian Grand Prix, was 15th for McLaren and half a second behind his team mate Norris, but Sainz’s MCL35 was sporting a new nose – covered in flow-vis paint – as McLaren tested a new design in FP1.
Williams’ George Russell was the only driver to set his fastest lap on medium tyres and he did so for P16, ahead of Haas’s Kevin Magnussen, who has a new combustion engine for the weekend after engine failure halted his progress at Monza.
READ MORE: Mick Schumacher to drive his father's 2004 Ferrari at Mugello ahead of team's 1000th GP
The Racing Point pair of Lance Stroll and outgoing Sergio Perez were P18 and P19 respectively, and set their fastest laps on hard tyres, concentrating on long runs in FP1. Last was Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, who also used white-walled hard tyres for his fastest laps. Latifi's late spin was the only yellow flag in an otherwise trouble-free session.
The drivers are still finding their feet in Tuscany but the early signs are that Red Bull are closer to Mercedes after their difficult weekend at Monza, with Ferrari also looking to be on better form – will we see Mercedes’ customary spot at the top of the grid be disturbed in FP2? You can follow all the action live on F1.com.