Valtteri Bottas set the pace during opening practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix in Formula 1’s first competitive visit to Portimao.

Bottas lapped a 1m18.410s on Medium tyres to head Mercedes teammate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton by 0.339s in first practice in Portugal.

F1 is visiting the Algarve circuit for the first time since 2009 winter testing as part of the revised calendar formed following the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Never before has a grand prix been staged at the venue, described as being like a rollercoaster by the drivers due to its fast and undulating nature.

The first ever practice session to be held at Portimao was dominated by track limits  infringements and drivers struggling with a lack of grip on a green track which has been recently resurfaced.

Hamilton, who could set a new record for most wins in F1 with victory on Sunday to surpass the tally of 91 grand prix wins he currently shares with Michael Schumacher, has a 69-point lead over Bottas in the championship but it was the Finn who held the initial advantage at Portimao.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was once again Mercedes’ nearest challenger in third, some seven-tenths down on Bottas as he ran exclusively on the Hard compound. The Dutchman was the first of a number of drivers who spun in the tricky conditions.

Charles Leclerc was an encouraging fourth for Ferrari and just eight-tenths off the pace running the Scuderia’s latest upgrade package.

The second Red Bull of Alex Albon rounded out the top five positions, ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen, while Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly completed the top-10 for Renault and AlphaTauri respectively.




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