PORTIMAO: Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas (pix) was fastest ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the opening practice of the Portuguese Grand Prix on Friday.
Bottas was 0.025 seconds ahead of Verstappen with fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez in third.
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was back fifth, 0.319sec behind teammate Mercedes Bottas in a session without major incident.
There was a new name in the form of British driver Callum Ilott in 17th place, 2.158 seconds behind Bottas, driving the Alfa Romeo usually occupied by Antonio Giovinazzi.
Ilott, the 22-year-old finalist in Formula 2 last season, was recruited this week by Alfa Romeo as the second reserve driver after failing to secure a full-time race spot for 2021.
Alfa Romeo team boss Frédéric Vasseur said Ilott was “without doubt one of the most talented drivers to come through the ranks”.
Hamilton leads Verstappen by just one point after a win in each of the season’s two opening races. – AFP