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Hamilton pips Bottas to top Spanish GP first practice

Hamilton pips Bottas to top Spanish GP first practiceā€¯

Lewis Hamilton edged out Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in opening practice for the Spanish Grand Prix as McLaren's Fernando Alonso hit more reliability problems.

With teams turning up their cars for the afternoon practice session, Mercedes' one second advantage was reduced to 0.3 of a second, with Hamilton leading Bottas, Raikkonen and Vettel.

In addition to being behind the two Mercedes, Vettel was also outpaced by Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen but the championship leader remained positive it would all come together for him on race day.

Last year it was Dutch 18-year-old Max Verstappen who became the sport's youngest victor when he triumphed for Red Bull, on his team debut, after both Mercedes drivers collided at the start.

Lewis Hamilton expects Ferrari will throw their support behind Sebastian Vettel in the battle for this year's F1 Drivers' Championship.

Vettel said: "I'm not happy..."

Other upgrades that Mercedes has brought to Spain include a new rear floor and a revised rear wing.

"The team has done an incredible job with the upgrades and the vehicle is working just as we expected". "It's a good feeling for everyone when these upgrades work". He has said he wants to be in a winning vehicle next year.

"And now it's done, I just want to do it again and again".

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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who won the race previous year , and Daniel Ricciardo were next, within 1.6 seconds of Hamilton. If not, the two-time former champion says he will be looking for another team, or even to abandon F1 altogether.

"It's been a much better start to the weekend for me than in Sochi so I'm very happy". I think we would have loved to do a bit more running, get a bit of a better feel for the vehicle.

"It's not my decision but I'm ready to race whoever comes along".

The track, located close to the city of Barcelona, is one of the venues used as a pre-season test circuit, so all of the teams already have experience and data of their 2017 specification cars on the track.

"It's tough but it's more tough for McLaren, who brings updates trying to find a millisecond here and there and we can not even run".

"I don't know why, I think it is the myth of Barcelona where Pirelli is afraid of but by Sunday things calm down, the track picks up and we should be alright".

Red Bull had a slightly discordant session, with both cars undergoing work at times, but there were signs that the latest upgrade has wrought improvement with the lead RB13 within 1.1s of the Mercedes.

Felipe Massa was ninth for Williams, while Carlos Sainz made up the top 10, having caused a brief red flag an hour in as his Toro Rosso shed some debris after running over the kerbs at Turn 9.

"I feel good. Obviously today I don't feel so good inside the auto - it was quite slippery but I think it was due to the conditions".



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