March 25, 2018

Bottas fastest in practice at British GP

15 July 2017, 10:46 | Kevin Scott

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff accused Romain Grosjean of being a moaner and said he is lucky to be in Formula One

Toto Wolff

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was fourth but will start ninth after receiving a grid penalty for a gearbox change.

It is the flawless start to a weekend on which Hamilton knows he needs to win. The polycarbonate shield, placed on Vettel's Ferrari for the first time, is created to protect against flying debris while offering an unrestricted view.

His performance was the flawless riposte to criticisms of his decision to miss the F1 demonstration in London on Wednesday.

The Renault driver, seeking his first points of the season this weekend, starts 11th - the same place he has finished three of the last four races.

The foundation for Bottas's victory charge came at the start when he pulled away so quickly that race control investigated for a possible jump-start. I need to look at the footage.

The three-time world champion later asked Mercedes to check for damage but the team confirmed he had escaped the moment with just a "a little bit of tatiness" on the floor of his auto.

It is a classic scenario in which to expect a raucous home crowd to give Hamilton great support while his rival, like any good "panto villain", should be ready for something else. "We will be testing it on various cars over the coming months", he added.

"From what we've seen in the past, it's a different story in qualifying and the race for them", Raikkonen said.

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The Finn's mark of one minute, 29.106 seconds saw him edge out team-mate and home hope Lewis Hamilton at the top of the time sheets, with Max Verstappen close by in third place in the Red Bull.

Hamilton was able to rise to fifth and begin to hound Kimi Raikkonen, only for Mercedes to bring him in earlier than planned at the end of lap 32.

Hulkenberg's team-mate Jolyon Palmer was down in 14th place, almost a second slower than the German.

Also bowing out at that stage were Daniil Kvyat, Alonso, Carlos Sainz and Felipe Massa, the latter's exit capping a miserable day for Williams who are celebrating their 40th anniversary this weekend.

Only one other driver did the same - Force India's Esteban Ocon - and he was more than two seconds slower than Alonso.

An already intriguing weekend was given added spice overnight with news of grid penalties for Bottas and Ricciardo, both drivers in receipt of new gearboxes, while poor old Alonso's grid demotion is now nearly a custom.

Verstappen was involved in an amusing moment of team radio when his engineer warned him about yellow caution flags at Turn Seven, only for Verstappen, who had just run wide at the corner, to reply: "Yes, because of me".

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