As the teams took to the Algarve International circuit under a cloudy Portimao, the free practice session offered a chance to warm up their cars. This is the first time F1 action will take place in Portimao, since the track’s construction in 2008. And already Mercedes were looking to stamp their authority ahead of the race on October 25.
The sharp corners and elevation changes are quite tricky at this particular circuit. And it was seen with a few cars locking up and some even spinning off a little occasionally.
Mercedes, as they have most times, led the FP1 charts in terms of lap timings. And even without their DAS system, they looked very comfortable, as they adjusted to the challenges of the track.
Mercedes dominated the first free practice session
Although they made a slow start compared to their rivals, Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton ultimately ended FP1 in P1 and P2 respectively. They had lap timings of 1:18:410 and 1:18:749 respectively, which means that they are the pacesetters as it stands.
Elsewhere, Red Bull aiming to challenge Mercedes this week had its drivers, Max Verstappen and Alex Albon, in P3 and P5 respectively. The latter did however speak about the car being slightly ‘unstable’ over the team radio, at one point in time.
Charles Leclerc was a surprise entrant in the Top 5, sandwiched between the Red Bull drivers in P4. He will look to make the most of the latest updates made on the SF1000, en route a good points finish.
The usual midfield battlers occupied the rest of the Top 10 places
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz came P6, which will be a source of encouragement for the Woking-based team. Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen followed him in P7 and P8.
Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly completed the Top 10. But, AlphaTauri may have minor concerns, after calling the French driver in regarding an issue on their car during the session.
One notable aspect in the session was a few drivers having their lap times deleted, owing to track limits. With turns 1 and 4 proving tough to handle, it will interest to see how the 20 drivers cope with those tricky areas.