Valtteri Bottas was fastest in Qatar Grand Prix practice Friday. (LAT Images)
Valtteri Bottas was fastest in Qatar Grand Prix practice Friday. (LAT Images)

Bottas Fastest On Day One In Qatar

LUSAIL, Qatar – Valtteri Bottas paced the Formula 1 field on the opening day of action Friday at the Losail Int’l Circuit in advance of the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver topped the second practice and the combined speed charts overall with a quick lap of 1:23.148. His quick lap put Bottas .209 seconds clear of Pierre Gasly, who ended the day second fastest for the AlphaTauri squad.

“We’ve started the weekend pretty well with the set-up. The balance felt good, so I only made a few minor tweaks for FP2,” Bottas said. “That’s an encouraging way to start the weekend at a new track, the team did a really good job with their pre-weekend preparations. It’s not far off the sweet spot, obviously there’s always work to do and improvements to find and even with driving, you can’t find all the speed available in just two sessions. We’ll keep on working. It’s hard to draw conclusions from today, practice is practice, but the feeling is okay and that’s promising for the rest of the weekend.”

Behind Gasly was championship leader Max Verstappen, who ended both practice sessions ahead of his title rival Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton could only muster the fourth fastest lap in each practice session while Verstappen topped the first session before ending the second session third overall.

“I’ve had a lot of fun driving today, I think it’s a really cool track,” said Verstappen. “FP2 was the first time we could test on the track in the evening so it was important to see how the car would react. There was quite a big change between the medium and the soft tyre for me, the soft tyre wasn’t amazing but it’s the first time here so there are a lot of things to understand. It’s difficult to say what will happen during the race with these cars, it’s tough to follow but I think over one lap it’s going to be good. Let’s see what happens this weekend, there’s still a lot of things to look at as everything is still so new.”

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