Hamilton ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas in Barcelona with Ferrari pair Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel trailing ahead of Sunday’s race
LEWIS HAMILTON has laid down an early marker with the fastest time in the first practice session, ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.
Hamilton clocked 1:21.51 on medium tyres, just 0.0029 seconds ahead of Mercedes team-mate and Russian Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas in Barcelona on Friday.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was the nearest challenger to the Mercedes duo, and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso had a nightmare, breaking down after three corners.
The two time champion, spun out of a turn and into the gravel, right at the start of the morning session at the Catalunya track.
McLaren’s team radio told the Spanish driver to “stop the car, stop the car, engine problem” as a pool of liquid dripped from the underside of the vehicle.
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was fourth, about a second slower than Hamilton, but had problems early on when a gearbox issue stopped his pit lane exit.
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Track marshals rolled him back to his garage, and team mechanics quickly fixed the problem before the German headed back out.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who won the race last year, and Daniel Ricciardo were next, within 1.6 seconds of Hamilton.
Practice will resume after lunch and again on Saturday before qualifying for Sunday’s race.