Valtteri Bottas edges Sebastian Vettel in FP2, setback for Charles Leclerc
Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas edged Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, while Charles Leclerc suffered another reliability setback during Friday’s second practice session for Formula 1’s Chinese Grand Prix.
Bottas clocked a best time of 1:33.330 to eclipse FP1 leader Vettel by a mere 0.027s as drivers switched to using Soft tyres in cool and overcast conditions at Shanghai.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished just 0.221s behind Bottas as an opportunity to top the session slipped through his fingers when he drifted wide at the final turn.
Fourth-placed Lewis Hamilton was almost half a second further adrift; both he and Bottas had early spins on their out laps on an initial run amid struggles in getting tyres up to temperature.
Ferrari’s Leclerc was a subdued seventh and missed the final 30 minutes of the session, when drivers typically carry out long run simulations, as the team suffered another reliability concern, two weeks after the engine issue that denied him a maiden win in Bahrain.
Leclerc returned to the pits in order for Ferrari to undertake cooling system checks; TV footage showed mechanics cleaning leaked coolant from the floor of the garage beneath the SF90.
Ferrari stressed it was “no big concern” and that it had parked Leclerc’s car for the remainder of the session as a precaution to avoid any potential further damage.
Renault and McLaren impressed with short-run pace as Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. finished fifth and sixth respectively, the German just 0.059s behind Hamilton, while Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo were eighth and ninth.
Pierre Gasly was again off the pace as his struggles with Red Bull’s RB15 continued, with the Frenchman at the foot of the top 10, nine-tenths behind Verstappen.
Kimi Raikkonen was 11th for Alfa Romeo ahead of Toro Rosso pair Alexander Albon and Daniil Kvyat, the latter joining the session late after Honda undertook a precautionary engine change.
Racing Point duo Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez were split by just 0.005s in 14th and 15th, with Kevin Magnussen a mere 0.004s back in 16th spot.
Less than half a second separated Magnussen from eighth-placed Norris, but a further gap of nine-tenths followed to Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Grosjean’s Haas VF-19 suffered a failure on the left-hand-side of the front wing, similar to the structural collapse that occurred at the previous event in Bahrain.
Antonio Giovinazzi – who missed almost the entirety of the opening session due to an engine installation problem – was a subdued 18th, as Williams finished at the back again.
Robert Kubica edged team-mate George Russell by a tenth of a second, with the Pole’s best effort 2.7s behind pacesetter Bottas.
Saturday’s final practice session will begin at 11:00 local time (GMT +8)
China - Practice 2
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:33.551||0.221||29|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||1:34.455||1.125||32|
|11||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:34.551||1.221||33|
|12||Alexander Albon||Red Bull||1:34.634||1.304||37|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:34.694||1.364||19|
|14||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||1:34.779||1.449||37|
|15||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||1:34.784||1.454||35|
|18||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:35.914||2.584||39|