Max Verstappen came ninth in the second session as Charles Leclerc took his Ferrari to third in Barcelona
By Olivia Kairu
Mercedes have dominated both Friday free practice sessions in Barcelona, with Valtteri Bottas setting the fastest time in FP1 and Lewis Hamilton leading a ‘Black Panther’ one-two in FP2.
The German team was quick to show its hand as both drivers alternated for fastest laps in the morning, with Bottas eventually taking P1 with a 1.18s504 lap time on hard tyres. Hamilton then kicked the Finn off the top of the Friday timesheet with a 1.18s170 lap time to lead the FP2.
Championship contenders Red Bull, on the other hand, underperformed in the second free practice session. Max Verstappen split the Mercedes for P2 in the FP1, but settled for 9th in the second session after aborting his qualifying simulation on the soft tyre due to traffic.
The Dutchman continued to run on the soft compound but did not set a faster time than the 1.18s785 lap he had done on mediums. Teammate Sergio Perez remained in the middle of the pack in both sessions, coming in 9th and 10th.
Nicholas Latifi finished the first session in 16th, one position ahead of Formula 2 and Williams test driver Roy Nissany, who stood in for George Russell. The Briton came back for FP2, finishing on P17, one position ahead of Latifi. Lance Stroll finished 10th and 14th in the first and second sessions, respectively, with teammate Sebastian Vettel coming 8th and 11th.
Racing at home
Spanish driver and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso set the fastest time at the beginning of FP1 on the soft compound tyre, which was soon deposed by Hamilton on the hard tyre with a lap time of 1m19.675s.
Alonso and his teammate Esteban Ocon showcased the upgrades Alpine lined up for the race weekend with great performances, finishing fourth and fifth in the second session, respectively.
Also driving at his home race is Carlos Sainz Jr. The Ferrari driver had a consistent Friday performance, coming 0.5s off the fastest times in both sessions to finish 6th in FP1 and 8th in FP2. His teammate Charles Leclerc grabbed P3 in the second session, coming 0s165 off Hamilton’s lap time.
Alpha Tauri locked in the sixth and seventh positions in FP2, led by Pierre Gasly and followed by Yuki Tsunoda, both improving from their P7 and P11 FP1 positions.
Daniel Ricciardo continues to struggle in his McLaren after a shaky qualifying in Portimao as the Australian was only able to come 14 and 15th in FP1 and FP2 respectively. Teammate Lando Norris managed to go fourth fastest in first practice, falling to P12 later on in the Spanish afternoon.
Haas driver Nikita Mazepin found trouble first in FP1, losing the rear of the car at the exit of Turn 8 after accelerating into Turn 7 and spinning into the gravel.
The Russian had a far from smooth session. He also impeded Charles Leclerc’s flying lap later, prompting the Ferrari driver to complain on team radio. “Mazepin will never change,” he said. Haas remained at the bottom of the timesheet with P20 for Mazepin in both sessions and P18 for Mick Schumacher in FP1.
A red flag was then caused by Robert Kubica, who took over Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo for FP1. The Polish driver got trapped in the gravel at the newly shaped Turn 10. He eventually split the Haas duo by finishing 19th.
Round four of Formula 1 at the circuit in Barcelona-Catalunya is one the drivers are familiar with due to countless pre-season testing sessions in recent years. The final practice session starts at 6 AM Eastern Time on Saturday. The qualifying is set for 9 AM the same day, the same time race starts on Sunday.
See the full FP1 results below
See the full FP2 results below