Second free practice topped by Lewis Hamilton at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Updates bedded in, data gathered and Fernando Alonso’s McLaren fixed. But Hamilton and Bottas remained fastest after soft tyres were fitted and race simulations began in second practice at the Spanish GP.
Having stopped late on in the morning session, Kevin Magnussen and Haas were eager to get back on track the moment FP2 went green. Launching out of the pit lane and back onto the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Things, however, were not so great for Haas despite being straight back out on track. For Magnussen was almost immediately on the radio, claiming “there is something wrong”. Even if the team replied back noting no irregularities on the data.
Following a sluggish 1:31.495 for Magnussen, as he set the first time of the afternoon, the Dane was back on the radio again. This time adding detail to his cries.
“The rear is nowhere,” claimed Magnussen. “It suddenly lets go completely.”
Magnussen was not alone, either, in having issues early on in the afternoon. With Jolyon Palmer, kicking his weekend off having sat out FP1 for Sergey Sirotkin, noting he was suffering from understeer mid-corner. While Daniil Kvyat felt something was wrong with the front of his Toro Rosso despite the team noting nothing was wrong with the floor.
Like Palmer, Alonso too was effectively kicking his weekend off in second practice following his morning lasting just 12 minutes. The oil leak that ground Fernando’s Honda to a halt eventually took until 26 minutes into the second session before McLaren could return the two-time champion to his home circuit.
By that point, Magnussen’s early benchmark had been shattered with Perez, Vettel, Raikkonen and Bottas all taking turns in setting the pace. With Raikkonen holding a sizeable one second lead over Verstappen.
Verstappen, though, found himself in the unwanted group of drivers running off track having been blown off course at turn nine. Suffering a kick from a gust of wind that caught the Red Bull mid-corner and flicked him towards the gravel trap.
Soon after came the arrival of the soft compound tyres. Bedded in by Vettel, as he broke ground to go top by 1.8 seconds to the medium tyre runners.
A time easily enough to go top as the first frontrunner to run the tyres. But not fast enough to fend off Raikkonen, as the Finn nudged ahead by a tenth of a second.
Laps from the Mercedes men ensured they retained their morning advantage as they regained the top two positions on their eventual soft tyre laps. This time, though, not holding as sizeable lead over Ferrari as previously secured.
Inside a second of the fastest-Mercedes, Hamilton, also came Nico Hulkenberg once the Renault driver completed his flying lap on the soft compound tyre.
Jolyon Palmer’s fastest lap came home just three-tenths down on his team-mate for eight place. Putting both Renaults up on Williams, Toro Rosso, Haas and Force India in the midfield battle.
With flying laps out the way, long runs became the focus. Filling the cars with fuel and setting about race simulations.
All progress, however, was halted with half an hour to go when red flags fell over the circuit for debris left strewn across the track from Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso.
Carlos had run wide as he exited turn nine and found himself rubbing along the kerb. Scrapping the floor on the undulated surface before parts flew away to the left.
Had the debris remained off track, yellow flags or a Virtual Safety Car could have been enough. But as the debris eventually came to rest just aside the racing line, red flags were needed to neutralise the session and allow a marshal to rush to and clear the track.
Once clear, the long runs were well and truly underway. With drivers aiming to stretch the much faster soft rubber as long as they could. But ultimately losing lots of time the longer the stint lasted.
This sudden cliff of performance loss was less prominent on the medium compound tyres. While Valtteri Bottas was able to maintain pace on the softs for the longest as he averaged a 1:26.5 second lap time.
Compare Bottas’ time to his rivals and he comes out fastest by three-tenths of a second to Hamilton and a further two-tenths to Raikkonen. Sebastian Vettel’s soft tyre average was nearly a second down on Valtteri’s, while matched by Verstappen.
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||TAG||29||1’21.438||0.636|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||TAG||35||1’21.585||0.783|
|10||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||Renault||34||1’22.265||1.463|
|12||Esteban Ocon||Force India||Mercedes||37||1’22.520||1.718|
|14||Sergio Perez||Force India||Mercedes||32||1’22.722||1.92|
|18||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||Renault||27||1’23.236||2.434|