World Champion Lewis Hamilton maintained Mercedes’ one-lap dominance during second practice at Formula 1’s rearranged Spanish Grand Prix on Friday afternoon.
Formula 1’s Spanish encounter traditionally takes place in mid-May and the event’s postponement to this weekend means teams and drivers have faced hotter conditions compared to usual.
Mercedes struggled with blistering on the harder compound tyres in race trim in hot weather at Silverstone last Sunday, but across one lap, and on softer tyres with lower pressures, the W11 was the class of the field on Friday afternoon.
Hamilton posted a time of 1:16.883 on the Soft compound – which this weekend is the C3 – to finish 0.287s clear of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who led the way in the first session earlier in the day.
Mercedes has not been beaten to pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix since 2012 and has only been defeated once in the hybrid era – when its drivers collided on the opening lap of the 2016 encounter.
Hamilton is chasing his fourth successive victory at the event.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was again best of the rest in third, 0.821s behind Hamilton, while Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo maintained his encouraging one-lap form by classifying fourth.
Haas heads ultra-close midfield battle
Haas has scored only one point this season, and has been on the Q1/Q2 cut-off for much of the year, but on Friday afternoon Romain Grosjean was a surprise fifth aboard the VF-20.
It provided encouragement for a team that has lacked qualifying pace through the year but a strong afternoon nonetheless had a down side as Grosjean pulled into the pits late on after suffering a loss of power.
Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen was only six-tenths down on Grosjean but occupied 16th – emphasising the tightly-contested nature of an expanded midfield group.
That gaggle of cars included both representatives from Ferrari, McLaren, Racing Point and AlphaTauri, as well as Renault’s Esteban Ocon and Red Bull’s Alexander Albon.
Charles Leclerc was once more Ferrari’s quicker driver, in sixth, while Carlos Sainz Jr. kept up his usual strong form on home soil by classifying seventh for McLaren.
With Racing Point’s Sergio Perez classifying behind Sainz Jr. it meant that positions three through eight were occupied by six different teams.
Albon’s one-lap speed was again lacking compared to the sister Red Bull as he finished eight-tenths adrift of Verstappen, down in 13th place, three spots behind AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.
Williams struggling for pace
Williams is the only team without a point this season but its FW43 has not yet been slowest in qualifying, with that unwanted honour falling to Alfa Romeo at all five grands prix.
But through Friday’s pair of practice sessions the team struggled for performance, leaving Nicholas Latifi and George Russell at the back, behind Alfa Romeo duo Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi.
Latifi finished a couple of tenths clear of Russell as the Briton returned to the cockpit of his FW43 after missing FP1 while tester Roy Nissany undertook duties.
Russell’s lack of grip was such that he complained “it’s like driving on ice” towards the end of the session, as he unusually finished as the slowest of the Williams drivers.
Saturday’s third practice session will begin at 12:00 local time.