The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Valtteri Bottas led the way on the opening day of practice ahead of Sunday’s Tuscan Grand Prix at the Mugello circuit in Italy. In the opening session, the Finn completed 33 laps with a time of 01:17.879s. In the second session he completed 28 laps with a time of 01:16.989s and speaking following the action he said:

It’s been a lot of fun today and I’ve enjoyed every single lap. The whole opening section with the high-speed chicanes and the second sector is just amazing and the car felt pretty good out there. I struggled with quite a lot of understeer in the first session and still in places in the second session, but it felt better. I think there’s still quite a bit of lap time to unlock, both in the car and also as a driver. This track is definitely one of the most physically demanding. We’ll only properly get to see the effects of that in the race distance, but even today, I could feel it and it’s going to be tough for everyone on Sunday. It’s also quite unforgiving, with little margin for error and that’s how it should be.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton ended the opening session in 4th place with time of 01:18.409s while in the afternoon he was second and speaking following the action he said:

I have to say, this track is pretty intense – so fast and challenging, it’s amazing to experience. I love it! There’s no time to play around here and it’s one of the most physically demanding that I’ve driven for a while. I’ve been trying to push it to the limit today, but I think there are a few sections where I can improve. I’ve got the last sector pretty sorted, but there’s definitely more to come in the first and second sectors as Valtteri and Max were very quick through there. So, we’ve got some changes that need to be made and studying to do tonight. Hopefully we’ll improve it for tomorrow. The tyres have felt quite strong and have been behaving well, but it’s going to be difficult to look after them through those fast sections, particularly through 6, 7, 8 and 9.

Chief engineer Andrew Shovlin said:

It’s great that F1 has created the opportunity to run here, it’s such a unique track and so well suited to the current cars. Our morning was fairly smooth, we’ve had to adjust the car a fair bit to get the balance right and the drivers were finding a lot of time in themselves, but everything seems to be working well. The second session was interrupted a bit by the red flag, so our long runs weren’t as long as we wanted. However, the tyres do seem to be holding up better than we expected. We seem a bit slow on the straights compared to some, but in terms of pace we look OK and degradation seemed competitive. There’s a lot to learn with a new track, so we’ll work hard overnight to make sure we’ve not missed anything. But it does look like we’ve had a solid start to the weekend.

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