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Spanish GP: Bottas fastest ahead of Hamilton in 1st practice

Valtteri Bottas posted the fastest time in the first practice for the Spanish Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton on Friday.

The Finnish driver was .039 quicker than championship leader Hamilton and about 1 second ahead of Max Verstappen, who leapfrogged Bottas into second place in the standings after winning last Sunday's race at Silverstone.

There was an encouraging improvement for Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who placed fifth behind his teammate Charles Leclerc. Ferrari changed the chassis on Vettel's car following a dismal run of form.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during a practice session prior to the Formula One Grand Prix at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, Spain, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (Bryn Lennon, Pool via AP)

Sergio Pérez was seventh for Racing Point after recovering from the coronavirus and testing negative. The virus forced him to miss the last two races at Silverstone in England after he contracted it last month. Following the Hungarian GP on July 19 he flew by private plane to Mexico, where he visited his mother in hospital after she had an accident.

There is a second practice session later Friday, where conditions are expected to be even warmer on the circuit located just outside Barcelona.

High track temperatures worked against Mercedes last Sunday, with both drivers experiencing tire troubles.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during a practice session prior to the Formula One Grand Prix at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, Spain, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (Bryn Lennon, Pool via AP)

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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers his car during a practice session prior to the Formula One Grand Prix at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, Spain, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (Alejandro Garcia, Pool via AP)

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, left, drives behind Racing Point driver Sergio Perez of Mexico during the first practice session prior to the Formula One Grand Prix at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, Spain, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (AP Photo, Emilio Morenatti, Pool)