Vettel has priority but that could change, says Ferrari boss


In a sign of how competitive the top three teams look, one driver from each registered a fastest sector, with Verstappen quickest in the first sector, Bottas strongest in the middle and Vettel in sector three.

Not that defending champion Lewis Hamilton seems eager to be swept up by emotions.

"I am here to do one job, and one job only, and that is to win".

Throughout the session, all four drivers were swapping and changing positions, perhaps showing clues of a small difference between the Ferrari and Mercedes cars this weekend.

"It does not matter if it's the 1,000th, 2,000th or 10,000th (race), it's an irrelevant figure for me".

When and where is the race?

But the reigning five-times world champion can expect a stiff challenge in his bid for an unprecedented sixth triumph with Ferrari tipped as favourites following their Bahrain performance and Red Bull also in with an outside chance. It is scheduled to add a new race next year in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The more experienced of the two Ferrari drivers shall make a move inside the opening lap on Lewis, with the Briton (already under pressure in front of Bottas' superior pace) appearing as a somewhat easy target.

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As mentioned, today becomes the 1000th time the chequered flag has been waved at an F1 race so there'll be plenty of opportunities to reminisce as the day unfolds. Though conditions will be cooler on Saturday and Sunday.

The race will also be available on ESPN+ and via, while Sling TV, Hulu, YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue will all offer a live stream.

"Qualifying was ok in the last race, but the race was a big delta (to the Ferrari speed)".

At Friday's training session, Mercedes-AMG's Valtteri Bottas demonstrated the quickest, however just by the tiniest of slivers.

Hamilton and championship-leading team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who was fifth, set their fastest laps on the grippier soft tyre with Vettel and Leclerc setting their best efforts on the less sticky but more durable medium compound rubber.

Leclerc was on course for his first F1 win on his second start for Ferrari but one of his engine's cylinders stopped working in the closing stages of the race and he dropped to third.

Max Verstappen lifted his Red Bull into fourth with their upgrades.

What do the bookmakers say?

It briefly looked like the pair could come to blows during the move, with Verstappen forced to put two wheels on the grass as Vettel squeezed him on exit. But thanks to the efforts of Max Verstappen, the team continued their run of top four finishes so far this season, Verstappen finishing in fourth for the second consecutive race - and earning high praise from his team boss as a result.