Photo: Mercedes F1 team
In Spain, Mercedes and Red Bull again seem very well matched. During the first practice session for the GP of Spain, Max Verstappen was only a handful of thousandths slower than Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes.
The Barcelona-Catalunya circuit, on which the Spanish GP is held, is known by the teams and drivers like the back of their hand. In recent years, the preparatory winter tests for the new season have always taken place. This year, however, was different, as three days of testing took place in Bahrain.
That a ‘known’ circuit can also be treacherous was immediately apparent when F1 rookie Nikita Mazepin left the track at the start of the session. Fortunately, Mick Schumacher’s teammate was able to return to the pits.
For two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso, it was ‘coming home’ after a two-year absence from Formula 1. The very experienced Alonso obviously knows the circuit near Barcelona very well and Alonso was able to find the limits of the car and the circuit a bit faster.
Robert Kubica was allowed to get behind the wheel of the Alfa Romeo F1 car again during the practice session, something that the Pole owed largely to his sponsors. It was not really a success for Kubica because he lost control of his car, ended up in the gravel and caused a red flag.
At the end of the first practice session it became very busy on the track and that almost led to a collision between Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes and Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari.
In the end it was Valtteri Bottas who set the fastest time. In the Mercedes, the Finn was only a handful of thousandths faster than Max Verstappen.
01 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1: 18.504 25
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:18.537 19
03 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:18.627 22
04 Lando Norris McLaren 1: 18.944 24
05 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1: 18.996 25
06 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1: 19.020 22
07 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:19.062 26
08 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:19.234 24
09 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1: 19.349 17
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:19.429 25
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1: 19.669 22
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:19.681 28
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1: 19.694 23
14 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1: 19.732 24
15 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:19.950 25
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:20.270 25
17 Roy Nissany Williams 1:20.700 23
18 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:20.766 23
19 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo 1:21.887 13
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas 1:21.976 22
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