Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes one-two in messy opening Spanish GP practice
Spanish Grand Prix - FP1

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes one-two in messy opening Spanish GP practice

In an incident-packed first practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas dominated the timesheets as Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull end up in the barriers at Turn 4.

After a puncture deprived Bottas of victory two laps from the end of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix two weeks ago, the Mercedes driver returned to action in impressive form on Friday morning at the Circuit de Catalunya. Using the soft tyre -- the second fastest of the three compounds on offer this weekend -- Bottas hooked up an impressive lap with big margins over Hamilton in sectors two and three.

The session was full of incidents and Bottas was among the first drivers to spin after locking his rear tyres under braking at Turn 10. Moments later, Sebastian Vettel spun on the entry to the final chicane and within a matter of minutes Marcus Ericsson was in the gravel at Turn 12. All three drivers managed to continue in the session, but blustery winds and the circuit's new track surface appeared to be causing handling issues for drivers up and down the grid.

Brendon Hartley took a trip through the gravel at Turn 4 in his Toro Rosso and was followed soon after by Romain Grosjean in the Haas. After a second spin further round the lap, Grosjean told his team he believed there was an issue with the car and returned to the pits for it to be checked over.

With 55 minutes remaining in the session, Ricciardo lost the rear of his car on the entry to Turn 4, causing his Red Bull to bolt to the left as he tried to correct it. The impact with the barrier broke the front wing and front left suspension of the car, causing a brief Virtual Safety Car period as it was recovered from the gravel trap and loaded on a trailer to return to the pits. Ricciardo did not return to action for the rest of the session.

Vettel finished the session in third for Ferrari, 0.1s behind Hamilton but 0.950s behind Bottas. However, the German set his fastest time on the super-soft tyres, which should have offered a performance advantage over the softs used by both Mercedes.

Max Verstappen was fourth fastest, just over a second off Bottas but spent most the session on the medium compound, which is the slowest of the three compounds on offer. Kimi Raikkonen was fifth using the super-soft ahead of an impressive lap from Fernando Alonso in the upgraded McLaren. The MCL33 features a revised nose and front wing, which appeared to offer some improvement with a time 0.359s off Raikkonen.

Ricciardo was seventh fastest after his accident took him out of action for the final 35 minutes of the session, just ahead of Romain Grosjean who recovered from his early balance issues to set the eighth fastest time. Stoffel Vandoorne and Pierre Gasly rounded off the top ten ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez. In a promising performance for Sauber, Ericsson finished 14th ahead of Carlos Sainz, Esteban Ocon and Hartley.

Robert Kubica completed his first practice session of the year with Williams and drove Sergey Sirotkin's car to the 19th fastest time. By the end of the 90 minutes he was 1.246s faster than teammate Lance Stroll who ended his morning beached in the gravel after running wide at Turn 5.

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14/12/2018
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