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Valtteri Bottas tops first practice in Tuscany

Valtteri Bottas tops first practice in Tuscany
Second practice is live on the 5 Live Sports Extra and the BBC Sport website

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was fastest from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in first practice at the Tuscan Grand Prix.

The Finn was 0.048 seconds quicker than Verstappen around the spectacular and rapid Mugello circuit, which is hosting a grand prix for the first time.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was third, 0.307secs off the pace, with Lewis Hamilton fourth, 0.530secs from Bottas.

Surprise Italian GP winner Pierre Gasly was fifth in the Alpha Tauri.

Hamilton’s lack of pace was a surprise – he is renowned for his ability to get up to speed quickly on new tracks and uncertain conditions – but he had a messy lap, running wide at the first corner.

He tried again and equalled his time on a second lap when the tyres were no longer in optimum conditions, which suggests he has plenty more pace in hand.

The drivers, many of them experiencing Mugello for the first time, were savouring a track renowned for its intense challenge – a rollercoaster ride of medium- and high-speed sweepers cascading around changing elevations in the Tuscany countryside.

Ferrari's one-off, deep red livery
Ferrari are running a special livery for their 1,000th race

The track’s two most famous corners – Arrabbiata One and Two – were already being taken at more than 170mph with only the tiniest lift of the throttle even in this early part of the weekend.

It seems as if they are certain to be taken flat-out in qualifying, and the preceding corners of Casanova and Savelli, a high-speed right-left chicane, may also be flat by then.

The only incident in the session, held in glorious weather and temperatures of 28C, was a spin for Williams’ Nicholas Latifi at Turn Three, known as Poggio Secco.

And for the first time in this coronavirus-affected season, spectators were allowed into the grandstands. Mugello has sold 2,800 tickets for each day.

The track is owned by Ferrari, and the race is named as well for the team’s landmark of reaching 1,000 F1 world championship grands prix.

The Ferraris are painted in a darker shade of red, mirroring the colour used by Ferrari’s first F1 car in 1950.

McLaren were trialling a new nose design with Carlos Sainz, who was 15th fastest.

The design echoes that on the Mercedes, and will make its competitive debut within two or three races if the data showed it was an improvement.

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