Spanish GP, Practice One: Valtteri Bottas shines for fast Mercedes
Mercedes on top in first session of weekend; McLaren improve after debuting new nose design
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 11/12/18 1:58pm
Valtteri Bottas set a blistering early pace for Mercedes, while Daniel Ricciardo crashed his Red Bull, on an incident-filled opening morning of practice at the Spanish GP.
The Friday morning session at F1's home-from-home, Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, is always one of the most anticipated practice sessions of the season as teams introduce their first big car upgrade packages of the year - and 2018's version was no different.
McLaren, via a triple 'flared nostril'-style nose and Ferrari, thanks to wing mirrors mounted on their car's halo, introduced the most visual changes, but Red Bull ran the first of what are expected to be several rounds of updates this weekend.
Ricciardo had the first set on his RB14, including revised bargeboards, but the Australian crashed nose-first into the Turn Four barriers mid-way through the session.
"Thankfully the damage is pretty light," Christian Horner told Sky F1, who cited a tailwind at that point of the circuit which had earlier caught other drivers out. "Thankfully it was the old front wing so he's a lucky boy."
But the big talking point on the timesheet was the eye-catching early pace of Mercedes, with pacesetter Bottas nearly one second clear of Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari despite running slower tyres.
Lewis Hamilton, who is the championship leader but admitted on Thursday he has "zero comfortability" with the W09, was second but lapped 0.849s slower than Bottas.
Bottas's best time of 1:18.148, set on the soft tyres, was one second faster than last year's pole-position time.
"You'd expect Mercedes to be strong here, but it's only Friday and you don't know the fuel levels," cautioned Sky F1's Martin Brundle.
While third-placed Vettel clocked his best time on supersofts, Red Bull could take comfort from Max Verstappen setting his fourth-quickest lap on the slowest compound available - the medium.
The success of upgrades being introduced this weekend is even more acute for McLaren, with their MCL33's new-look nose part of a suite of aerodynamic revisions aimed at hoisting them up the order.
And the Barcelona weekend began promisingly for the under-pressure outfit with Fernando Alonso sixth quickest after also only using the soft tyre.
But there was little to smile about for Williams as, despite introducing their own upgrades to the FW41 including a revised floor, their cars finished at the foot of the Practice One order.
Robert Kubica, appearing in a Practice One session for the first time since suffering serious injuries to his arm in 2011, spun at the final chicane but was ahead of Lance Stroll, who beached his Williams in the gravel.
Spanish GP Practice One Timesheet
|1. Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1:18.148||Soft|
|2. Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+0.849||Soft|
|3. Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+0.950||Supersoft|
|4. Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+1.039||Medium|
|5. Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||+1.351||Supersoft|
|6. Fernando Alonso||McLaren||+1.710||Soft|
|7. Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||+1.723||Soft|
|8. Romain Grosjean||Haas||+1.758||Soft|
|9. Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||+1.935||Medium|
|10. Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||+2.360||Medium|
|11. Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+2.489||Medium|
|12. Charles Leclerc||Sauber||+2.517||Soft|
|13. Sergio Perez||Force India||+2.776||Medium|
|14. Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||+2.836||Soft|
|15. Carlos Sainz||Renault||+2.905||Supersoft|
|16. Esteban Ocon||Force India||+2.996||Medium|
|17. Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||+3.011||Supersoft|
|18. Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||+3.225||Soft|
|19. Robert Kubica||Williams||+3.362||Supersoft|
|20. Lance Stroll||Williams||+4.608||Supersoft|