F1 – Bottas leads Mercedes 1-2 in opening practice for United States Grand Prix | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

F1 – Bottas leads Mercedes 1-2 in opening practice for United States Grand Prix

  • gb
22.10.21

Valtteri Bottas went quickest in first practice for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, beating Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen as running got underway at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.

Bottas’ best time of the 60-minute session, a lap of 1:34.874, saw him finish just four-hundredths of a second ahead Hamilton, while Verstappen was almost a second off both Mercedes drivers.

Held in blazing sunshine and hot conditions, the first 10 minutes of the session were almost devoid of action as early on Fernando Alonso’s Alpine stopped at the side of the track at Turn 12 and had to be recovered. His car was brought back to the pit lane and he rejoined the action later on.

Hamilton then set the early pace on soft tyres with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez also putting in some good time on hard tyres to rise towards the top of the order. Verstappen then took top spot on softs with 20 minutes remaining in the session, but the Dutch driver’s time was soon beaten by Hamilton who put just under a second between himself and the Red Bull man.

Bottas, though, had pace in reserve and though Hamilton also improved late on, the Finn’s best time left him 0.045s ahead of the Briton. Verstappen too found time late on but he couldn’t get closer than 0.932 seconds off Bottas.

Maintaining his early pace will become increasingly important for Bottas as the weekend progresses as Mercedes revealed that the Finn’s car will be fitted with a new engine this weekend and he will be subject to a five-place grid drop for Sunday’s race.

Fourth place in the session went to Ferrari’s, with the Monegasque driver’s team-mate Carlos Sainz two tenths of a second behind in fifth place. AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly took sixth place ahead of Pérez, who claimed the spot with his early lap on hard tyres. The Mexican put in a good lap on soft tyres later in the session but it was deleted for a track limits offence at Turn 9.

Perez also had an incident at the end of the session when he and Haas’ Mick Schumacher collided at Turn 12. Neither car was damaged but the contact was set to be investigated by the stewards.

Lando Norris finished eighth for McLaren and Alfa Romeo drivers Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top 10.

2021 FIA Formula 1 United States Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:34.874 17 209.191
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.919 0.045 18 209.091
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:35.806 0.932 16 207.156
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:36.334 1.460 18 206.020
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:36.508 1.634 20 205.649
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:36.611 1.737 18 205.430
7 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 1:36.798 1.924 20 205.033
8 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:36.855 1.981 11 204.912
9 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:36.874 2.000 18 204.872
10 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:36.876 2.002 18 204.868
11 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:36.966 2.092 19 204.677
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:36.970 2.096 22 204.669
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:36.972 2.098 20 204.665
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:36.982 2.108 20 204.644
15 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:37.068 2.194 12 204.462
16 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:37.458 2.584 18 203.644
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:37.463 2.589 19 203.634
18 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 1:37.954 3.080 22 202.613
19 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:38.866 3.992 17 200.744
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 1:42.239 7.365 19 194.121