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sportreff spanish F1
sportreff spanish F1

Hamilton on form but Ricciardo just 0.133s adrift as Red Bull impress; Ferrari three tenths back but are they sandbagging? Raikkonen suffers engine failure; McLaren encouraged.

Lewis Hamilton made it a Friday double for Mercedes at the Spanish GP by setting the fastest time in Practice Two, but rivals Red Bull and Ferrari significantly closed in to hint at another tight race weekend.

Hamilton picked up where team-mate Valtteri Bottas left off from the first session and was impressive on his way to a leading 1:18.259 on soft tyres.

But while Mercedes were almost a second clear of the chasing pack earlier in the day, Daniel Ricciardo finished just 0.133s behind Hamilton in P2 as Red Bull edged closer to running their full upgraded package.

Max Verstappen was a tenth back in third, with Bottas only fifth in the sister Mercedes. Both drivers set their fastest times on supersofts, with the top six struggling to extract enough grip out of the weekend’s quickest compound.

And, not for the first time, Ferrari appeared to be keeping their pace cards close to their chest on a Friday.

28 points finishes and counting – Lewis Hamilton, F1’s Mr Consistent

Β Sebastian Vettel, also on supersofts, was fourth and 0.326s off the pace, with Kimi Raikkonen a further two tenths adrift, but the Scuderia have gone on to improve on or match their P2 efforts come Saturday in every grand prix so far this season.

However, Raikkonen’s session was ended after an engine “malfunctuon” – only just managing to return his car to the pits.

Are Ferrari sandbagging?

Practice Two Practice Three Qualifying
Australian GP
Sebastian Vettel 5th 1st 2nd
Kimi Raikkonen 4th 2nd 3rd
Bahrain GP
Sebastian Vettel 2nd 5th 1st
Kimi Raikkonen 1st 1st 2nd
Chinese GP
Sebastian Vettel 4th 1st 1st
Kimi Raikkonen 2nd 2nd 2nd
Azerbaijan GP
Sebastian Vettel 11th 1st 1st
Kimi Raikkonen 2nd 2nd 6th

To add a further layer of intrigue, Red Bull appeared to be consistently faster when it came to the longer runs.

“The Red Bull looked mighty through the last sector in terms of consistency, grip – and I think they are still adding bits to the car through the weekend,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle.

“We don’t really know where Ferrari and Mercedes are on their qualifying pace. But we have a race on this weekend!”

Spanish GP, Practice Two: Race pace averages

Supersofts Softs Mediums
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 1:23.476 1:21.827
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes 1:22.952 1:21.836
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull 1:22.889 1:21.429
Max Verstappen, Red Bull 1:22.666 1:21.567
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari 1:23.082 1:21.342

Romain Grosjean finished ‘best of the rest’ in seventh for Haas, despite spinning into the gravel early on in another incident-filled session.

On a green track and in windy conditions, several drivers lost control of their cars momentarily – including Hamilton, Bottas, Vettel, Raikkonen and Verstappen.

Sergio Perez, meanwhile, was forced to pull his Force India to the side of the track after suspecting one of his tyres wasn’t bolted on correctly during his pitstop.

McLaren gave their new triple-duct nose its second outing after an impressive debut in P1, and enjoyed another encouraging result as Stoffel Vandoorne finished as their lead car in ninth.

Fernando Alonso was 12th but posted his fastest time on mediums and the team will be optimistic ahead of qualifying on Saturday.

Renault appear to be in danger of missing out on Q3 for the first time this season, however, with Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz only 13th and 17th respectively.

But their troubles are nothing compared to Williams’ woes. Shortly after Robert Kubica described his experience of driving the car in the first session as “embarrassing”, Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin struggled and propped up the field again.

The illustrious Grove team were more than three seconds off Hamilton’s benchmark, and more than a second off the top-10.

Spanish GP Practice Two Timesheet

Driver Team Time Tyres
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:18.259 Softs
2. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:18.392 Softs
3. Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:18.533 Supersofts
4. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:18.585 Supersofts
5. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:18.611 Supersofts
6. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:18.829 Softs
7. Romain Grosjean Haas 1:19.579 Supersofts
8. Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:19.643 Supersofts
9. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:19.722 Supersofts
10. Sergio Perez Force India 1:19.962 Softs
11. Esteban Ocon Force India 1:20.024 Supersofts
12. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:20.035 Mediums
13. Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:20.183 Supersofts
14. Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:20.373 Supersofts
15. Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:20.501 Supersofts
16. Charles Leclerc Sauber 1:20.514 Supersfots
17. Carlos Sainz Renault 1:20.672 Softs
18. Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:21.265 Supersofts
19. Lance Stroll Williams 1:21.556 Mediums
20. Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1:22.060 Supersofts