The Dutch Grand Prix couldn’t have gone any better for Max Verstappen and his legion home fans on a weekend Mercedes began the painful process of renewing its driver line-up.

Valtteri Bottas put Mercedes on top in first practice for the Belgian Grand Prix ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.

The Finn was 0.164s quicker than the Dutchman, while title leader Lewis Hamilton languished in 18th after abandoning his flying lap in traffic.

The Briton had set a Verstappen-matching time up to the Bus Stop chicane, where he encountered Nicholas Latifi’s Williams. He attempted to pass around the outside assuming the Canadian would make way, but Latifi took the outside line apparently unaware of the other car, forcing Hamilton to back out and ruining the lap.

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Valtteri Bottas edged teammate Lewis Hamilton to the best time of FP2 at the Hungarian Grand Prix on a strong afternoon for Mercedes.

The Finn’s fastest time on the soft tire — a 1m17.012s — was just 0.027s quicker than Hamilton’s best effort thanks to purple splits in the first two sectors, surrendering time only in the final third of the lap.

Title leader Max Verstappen was third and 0.298s off the pace. The Dutchman struggled badly with balance in his Red Bull Racing machine with both the soft and the medium compounds.

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Valtteri Bottas opened the French Grand Prix with the fastest time of first practice, but his Mercedes team was fuming about high curbs damaging his car.

Bottas had a 0.335s advantage over teammate Lewis Hamilton, but he was an early victim of the aggressive curbs dotted around the track, incurring damage to his front wing and requiring his first spare to be fitted just minutes into the session.

Circuit Paul Ricard has had a series of narrow, tall “baguette” curbs installed just beyond the regular red and white strips to deter drivers from running wide over the track’s vast expanses of asphalt, but they proved to be car destroyers based on the first hour of running.

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Valtteri Bottas opened the Spanish Grand Prix weekend with the fastest time of first practice at the modified Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The Finn’s best lap of 1m18.504s kept him ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen by just 0.033s, though the Dutchman was balked by Lance Stroll on his first flying lap on soft tires and had to make do with a second attempt. Verstappen also had a mid-session front wing change after picking up damage on the curbs through Turns 7 and 8.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton finished third and 0.123s behind his session-topping teammate, the Briton also on the soft compound.

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Valtteri Bottas answers media questions

Valtteri Bottas is the third different pole-getter of the season after besting Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to lock out the front row of the grid for the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas has taken his first pole of 2021 after Max Verstappen had a quicker time deleted for running off the track.

Verstappen was the first of the front-runners to set a time in the Portuguese Grand Prix pole shootout but had his time cancelled for running off the track at Turn 4 while collecting a moment of oversteer. The Red Bull driver lost time in the snap, but Turn 4 has been designated as a monitored corner for track limit violations, and the stewards were quick to erase his time.

Bottas was then clear to take top spot with a best time of 1m18.348s, and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton slot into second just 0.007s adrift.

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Valtteri Bottas beat Max Verstappen to the top spot in first practice at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Finn, who is 28 points off the championship lead thanks to his retirement from the previous race in Imola, bolted on a set of soft tires onto his Mercedes in the second half of the session to rocket to the top of the time sheet.

Red Bull Racing’s Verstappen was next best with just a 0.025s deficit despite the Dutchman complaining of severe vibrations on his soft tires. He was offered the chance to return to the garage but chose instead to set a single flying lap before withdrawing from the run. “I’ll just visit the dentist after the weekend,” he replied before coming close to toppling Bottas from the head of the time sheet.

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Valtteri Bottas completed a Friday clean sweep by topping second practice at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after Max Verstappen retired from the session with a drive problem.

The Finn set his quickest time of 1m15.551s on the medium compound early in the session, and though he undertook a subsequent three-lap qualifying simulation with the grippiest soft tire, he was unable to improve.

He was followed closely by teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was able to fractionally improve on his medium-tire time with the softs, though only enough to close to within 0.01s.

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Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton topped the time sheet for Mercedes in a crash-strewn first practice session for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola.

Just 0.041s separated the teammates, with Max Verstappen just 0.017s further back in third, at the end of the one-hour session, which was disrupted by two red-flag suspensions to clean up three crashed cars.

The first came at the 38-minute mark when Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon came together entering the Villeneuve chicane.

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A close fight at the front of the Formula 1 field is great for everyone — except Valtteri Bottas.

Valtteri Bottas resumed control of the time sheet for Mercedes in the crucial evening practice session at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which was briefly interrupted by a fire that struck Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo.

The Finn went fastest with a lap of 1m 36.276s ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was 0.203s adrift. Both drivers set their best laps on the medium tire. Bottas wrote off his soft lap with a twitchy moment through the first turn, while Hamilton had a time that would have been good enough to top the session by 0.2s deleted for exceeding track limits out of the final corners.

Max Verstappen was third quickest for Red Bull Racing, the Dutchman also on the medium tire. He too was on track to lead the session with the soft compound after setting a purple first sector and a personal best time at the second split, but he was held up by slower cars on long-run simulations in the final sector, ruining the lap.

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Valtteri Bottas has pipped George Russell and Max Verstappen in a three-way fight for pole at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen started the top-10 shootout as favourite with provisional pole, but the super-short circuit lent itself to three runs than the usual two, and Valtteri Bottas duly took back the initiative with his second lap.

But George Russell, standing in for Lewis Hamilton as the world champion recover from COVID-19, was the man making the biggest gains. The Williams driver has been improving session by session during his Mercedes loan and had just 0.142 seconds to close with his final tour to contend for pole.

Valtteri Bottas led a Mercedes front-row lockout at the Sakhir Grand Prix after narrowly beating stand-in teammate George Russell to pole position.

Bottas held provisional pole ahead of the final flying laps but failed to improve with his final effort, leaving himself vulnerable to the improving Russell, who is substituting for Lewis Hamilton this weekend after the world champion contracted COVID-19.

The young Briton started with a 0.142s deficit and set two personal best times in the second to splits, but it wasn’t enough to overturn the disadvantage, falling an agonizing 0.026s short.

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Valtteri Bottas will start from pole position ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in F1’s first race in Imola in 14 years.

Bottas trailed Hamilton by 0.031 seconds after their first laps of the top-10 shootout, but a 0.2-second improvement with his second lap turned that into a 0.097-second advantage at the flag, delivering him his fourth pole of the season.

“I knew in the last lap I had to risk it and go hard and the car responded,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to get pole. I had the shakes afterwards!”

Valtteri Bottas snatched a fourth 2020 pole position from teammate Lewis Hamilton to lead a Mercedes front-row lockout at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

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Valtteri Bottas completed a clean sweep of practice sessions for Mercedes at the Portuguese Grand Prix but Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing look poised to threaten for pole.

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Valtteri Bottas stayed quickest for Mercedes after two red flags prevented drivers from completing their practice programs in the second practice session for the Portuguese Grand Prix at Portimao.

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