Hamilton ahead of Bottas in Spanish GP practice
MONTMELO, Spain (AP):
Mercedes again topped the leader board as Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas in second practice yesterday for the Spanish Grand Prix.
The championship leader finished .287 seconds ahead of Bottas, who had been quicker than Hamilton earlier in first practice. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen again looks the only driver capable of challenging the dominant Mercedes, and he placed third in both sessions, closing the time gap slightly in the afternoon.
“I think it’s going to be a very tough race,” Hamilton, whose run of three straight wins was ended by Verstappen last Sunday at Silverstone, said.
Verstappen’s win there leapfrogged him over Bottas into second place in the standings, after taking the victory with a commanding drive. Verstappen’s ninth career win, however, was helped by Mercedes struggling with their tyres amid surprisingly high heat in England.
Spain in mid-August is even more challenging.
“It’s tough out there, I don’t think I’ve been to Spain when it’s been this hot,” Hamilton said. “It’s beautiful weather but it’s a killer in the car, and it’s obviously very tough on tyres as well ... the tyres are not happy in these conditions, you’re just sliding around.”
The track temperature was higher in the afternoon sun of Spain and, after about 30 minutes of the second session, the tyres on the Mercedes started to show some signs of wear.
“The main thing will be Sunday, with these temperatures, how we’re going to keep these tyres in good condition,” Bottas said.
It was an encouraging afternoon for the improving Renault team, with Daniel Ricciardo clocking the fourth-fastest time, but Ferrari slipped back.
Charles Leclerc dropped from fourth in P1 to sixth, while the struggling Sebastian Vettel went from fifth to a disappointing 12th.
Sergio Pérez was seventh in P1 and eighth in P2 for Racing Point after recovering from the coronavirus and testing negative. The virus forced the Mexican to miss the last two races in England after he contracted it last month. Following the Hungarian GP on July 19, Pérez flew by private plane to Mexico, where he visited his mother in hospital after she had an accident.