Valtteri Bottas leads the way in first opening practice in Barcelona
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News May 11, 2018 Updated: 8:44 AM PT
BARCELONA, Spain -- Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas took the top spot in the first free practice of the Spanish Grand Prix as the European season begins. Spain is also a point in the season where teams will often bring upgrades and try out new parts.
Bottas finished strong ending the first session 0.849s ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton in second and 0.950s ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who tried out a set of revised mirrors, finished in third.
“Today has been a good start to the weekend, but things can change quickly from Friday to Saturday especially since Ferrari and Red Bull looked quick today,” Bottas said.
Bottas would love nothing more than to bounce back this weekend after the unfortunate puncture that possibly cost him a win two weeks ago in Baku.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished behind Vettel in fourth as the Dutchman split the two Ferraris with Kimi Raikkonen in fifth. McLaren brought some new toys to play with this weekend as Fernando Alonso tried a new front nose and wing upgrade on his car. The Spaniard enjoyed a productive session finishing sixth.
However, gusty winds blew dirt on the track and saw many drivers fall victim to the slippery conditions.
Daniel Ricciardo ran into trouble when lost the rear of his car as he was entering Turn 4. Ricciardo was unable to stop his car before it made heavy contact with the barrier and destroying his front wing. The Red Bull driver would sit out the rest of the session finishing seventh.
Haas’ Romain Grosjean found his way into the gravel after he lost his car at Turn 4. Grosjean would resume the session and finish eighth.
Stoffel Vandoorne finished in ninth with Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly in tenth. Kevin Magnussen and Charles Leclerc, who finished 11th and 12th, had a close call when the two nearly touched coming down the main straight into Turn 1.
Sergio Perez finished 13th splitting the two Sauber drivers with Marcus Ericsson in 14th. Renault’s Carlos Sainz was 15th after taking part of the session to run aero rakes before switching to a series of aero tests while on the medium tire (white band).
Esteban Ocon was 16th followed by Nico Hulkenberg in 17th in the second Renault. Turn 4 continued to claim more victims throughout the day with Brendon Hartley losing his Toro Rosso and taking a trip into the gravel and finishing 18th.
Robert Kubica, who makes his F1 return as Williams’ reserve driver, was off to a rough start after he had a small spin just before Turn 14 and went on to finish 19th. Teammate Lance Stroll also had a rough start to the day after he barred his car in the gravel at turn 5. Stroll would end the day 20th.