Valtteri Bottas pips Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton to top first practice in Barcelona as Mercedes star bids to deliver a strong performance amid growing pressure ahead of Spanish Grand Prix
- Valtteri Bottas has topped first practice ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix
- The opening session was halted early after Alfa Romeo’s Robert Kubica crashed
- Bottas, 31, is bidding to put in a strong performance amid growing pressure
- The Finn finished ahead of Max Verstappen and Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton
Valtteri Bottas has topped first practice for the Spanish Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton after the session was brought to an abrupt halt.
The opening practice session was red-flagged with 15 minutes remaining after Robert Kubica spun out.
The Alfa Romeo reserve driver lost control of his car through the new left-handed Turn 10 at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya before sliding backwards into the gravel.
Valtteri Bottas topped first practice in Barcelona with pressure on the Finnish driver
Mercedes are understood to be growing frustrated with the 31-year-old’s performances
At the time of the suspension, Finnish driver Bottas was fastest in his Mercedes, lapping at 1:18.504, just 0.033 seconds quicker than Red Bull’s Verstappen.
Seven-time world champion and championship leader Hamilton ended the session on third, 0.123 seconds slower than his Mercedes team-mate.
Britain’s Lando Norris clocked in fourth fastest ahead of the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, while rookie Nikita Mazepin was slowest among the grid, posting a lap time over a second slower than team-mate Mick Schumacher.
The opening session in Spain was brought to a halt after Alfa Romeo’s Robert Kubica crashed
Bottas pipped Max Verstappen to top spot as the youngster looks to close the gap on Hamilton
Bottas is under pressure to put in a strong performance on race day amid reports that Mercedes engineers are losing faith in the Finn.
The 31-year-old failed to convert pole position into a win in Portugal last week, with Hamilton and Verstappen both passing the Mercedes man in Portimao.
‘There is some unrest at the factory about Valtteri,’ a Mercedes engineer anonymously told Sportsmail.
‘He is not up to it, which was made clearer by the job we saw [George] Russell do in Bahrain.’
The Williams driver impressed after stepping in for Hamilton in Bahrain last season, where a poor pit stop and tyre puncture prevented the young Brit from clinching his first win in Formula One.
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