PORTIMAO, Portugal – Valtteri Bottas swept both Formula One practice sessions on Friday at Algarve Int’l Circuit during the opening day of activity for the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Bottas turned the fastest lap of the day, a time of 1:17.940 around the 4.653-kilometer, 15-turn course, during FP2. The second practice was stopped twice by red flag periods.
Bottas is seeking to deny his Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton, a record 92nd F-1 victory in Sunday’s race.
“It’s been a good day today. The sun was shining, this is a great track for driving; it could definitely be worse!” Bottas noted. “It was quite slippery out on track, it reminded me a lot of when we went to Sochi or Austin for the first time, and we drove on the new tarmac there. This type of tarmac is tricky in terms of getting grip. Once you lose the grip, you can drop the car quite quickly, and I think that’s the reason why we have seen so many spins today. The track was evolving lap by lap, and it got better throughout the day, but maybe it was reset slightly in between the two sessions, and with red flags in second practice there wasn’t that much useful running.
“I’m still expecting an increase in grip over the rest of the weekend. The balance of the car was also pretty good,” Bottas added. “I was mainly struggling in the slow speed corners with the rear end of the car but it is not too far away from where I want it, as the lap times would also suggest. As always, there will be more work to do tomorrow.”
The first red flag came after the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly caught fire in spectacular fashion, while the second was when Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll collided at turn one.
Through all the chaos, Red Bull’s Verstappen was second-quick for the day, .595 seconds adrift of Bottas in the second practice. McLaren’s Lando Norris was third overall, nipping Hamilton’s FP1 lap of 1:18.749 by .006 seconds in FP2.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and the sister McLaren of Carlos Sainz were fifth and sixth, respectively, followed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, Gasly, Red Bull’s Alex Albon and Renault’s Esteban Ocon.
This weekend marks the first Portuguese Grand Prix since 1996.