Bottas fastest, Ferrari improve, as F1 hits mega Mugello

F1’s 2020 cars hit the fast and picturesque Mugello for the first time; Ferrari make much-improved start on their own track on the first day of the team’s 1000th GP weekend

Last Updated: 11/09/20 12:37pm

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Ride on board with Lewis Hamilton on his Mercedes for a full tour of the Mugello track
Ride on board with Lewis Hamilton on his Mercedes for a full tour of the Mugello track

Formula 1 made its eagerly-anticipated debut around the fast and demanding Mugello track as Valtteri Bottas topped the first practice at the inaugural Tuscan GP.

The first of several new or returning tracks added to the revised 2020 season, the picturesque Mugello circuit, which is owned by Ferrari, has only previously staged ad-hoc F1 test sessions with the venue more associated with bike racing.

Although many drivers have some experience of the 5.2km circuit from testing or junior series, Friday morning was their first true experience of driving the 2020-spec F1 cars – the fastest in the sport’s history – around the quick, flowing lap.

And, for the fifth consecutive race weekend, it was Bottas who topped the opening session with a best time from the Mercedes man of 1:17.879.

But Mercedes were by no means dominant early on in Tuscany.

Max Verstappen was less than a tenth back on Bottas for Red Bull, while Charles Leclerc was surprisingly only 0.3s adrift for Ferrari.

Ferrari find much-needed early pace

The Italian team head into their 1000th Grand Prix at their own track on the back of two absolutely torrid weekends at Spa and Monza, when they were almost-completely absent from the top 10 in all sessions and failed to score any points.

So Leclerc’s P1 performance here was certainly more encouraging in a SF1000 car that is running in retro burgundy livery this weekend as a nod to Ferrari’s F1 debut in 1950.

Lewis Hamilton, the 47-point world championship leader, was fourth in the opening session ahead of last week’s surprise first-time winner Pierre Gasly, as the Frenchman and AlphaTauri made another strong start here.

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Nicholas Latifi goes round onto the gravel after getting a bit of understeer into Turn Two during Practice One
Nicholas Latifi goes round onto the gravel after getting a bit of understeer into Turn Two during Practice One

Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel was outside the top 10 in the second Ferrari as the four-time world champion got back down to work with his current team after his move to his next one, Racing Point, was announced on Thursday.

Sergio Perez, who Vettel is replacing, and Lance Stroll were towards the bottom of the P1 timesheets with the team focusing on heavier fuel race-sim work to kick off their weekend.

Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, meanwhile, was the session’s only spinner.

Tuscan GP Practice One Timesheet

Driver Team Time
1) Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:17.879
2) Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.048
3) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.307
4) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.530
5) Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +0.797
6) Esteban Ocon Renault +0.926
7) Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri +0.960
8) Lando Norris McLaren +1.102
9) Alexander Albon Red Bull +1.189
10) Daniel Ricciardo Renault +1.261
11) Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo +1.340
12) Romain Grosjean Haas +1.345
13) Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +1.388
14) Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo +1.443
15) Carlos Sainz McLaren +1.578
16) George Russell Williams +1.599
17) Kevin Magnussen Haas +1.672
18) Lance Stroll Racing Point +1.957
19) Sergio Perez Racing Point +1.961
20) Nicholas Latifi Williams +2.155

Source : Sky Sports