Lewis Hamilton made a flying start to the Spanish Grand Prix weekend by topping the timesheets for the opening Formula 1 practice session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas arrived in Barcelona armed with a number of updates for their W08 car, with the hope of eking out an advantage over Ferrari after a tight battle through the opening four races.
Hamilton and Bottas pulled out almost a second on the Ferrari pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, with the three-time champion setting a fastest time of 1:21.521.
Bottas finished just 0.029 seconds shy of his teammate in second place, with Raikkonen a further nine-tenths of a second adrift. Vettel’s best lap was over a second slower than that of Hamilton at the top of the timesheets.
Vettel was fortunate to finish so high up after suffering a problem on his car early in the session that forced him to park his car up at the end of the pit lane. The German was able to be wheeled back to the Ferrari garage so he could get back out on-track.
There were worse fortunes for McLaren and home favorite Fernando Alonso, who completed just two corners before an oil leak caused his car to snap sideways and spew plumes of smoke, acting as the latest issue at the start of a trying season for the driver and the team. The Spaniard reportedly left the circuit and has returned to his hotel in Barcelona.
Red Bull’s updated RB13 car looked strong in FP1 as Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo took fifth and sixth respectively, while Haas managed to get both of its cars into the top 10. Kevin Magnussen was seventh ahead of Romain Grosjean in eighth, although the former’s session was cut short after a stoppage with seven minutes remaining.
Nico Hulkenberg finished ninth for Renault ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr., who was the lead home driver in 10th place for Toro Rosso.
Second practice for the Spanish Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 8am ET on Friday.