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Bottas fastest in 1st practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas posted the fastest time Friday in the first practice session for the Portuguese Grand Prix.

He was .34 seconds faster than teammate Lewis Hamilton and .78 ahead of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

Hamilton comfortably leads the championship and his victory two weeks ago at the Eifel GP in Germany tied Michael Schumacher's F1 record of 91 wins.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco spins in the gravel during the first practice session prior to the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. The Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (Jorge Guerrero, Pool via AP)

The 4.65-kilometer (2.9-mile) circuit in Portimao is undulating with frequent elevation changes and overtaking is difficult. It was used for pre-season testing in 2008 but never before held an F1 race.

It is the second new race on the coronavirus-hit calendar after the Tuscan GP in Mugello last month.

Verstappen and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc had problems with grip early on, with Leclerc going off track and into some gravel.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland steers his car during the first practice session prior to the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. The Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (Jorge Guerrero, Pool via AP)

The car was undamaged and he finished with the fourth best time.

There is a second practice session later Friday.

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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers his car during the first practice session prior to the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. The Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP PhotoArmando Franca, Pool)