FP2: Leclerc heads Mercedes’ Russell and Hamilton in second practice
In baking heat at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Charles Leclerc led the second practice session of the Spanish Grand Prix weekend – with the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton slipping intriguingly into P2 and P3 in their upgraded W13s.
The mercury was reading 30 degrees Celsius (with 45 degrees track temperature) as the drivers headed out on track at 1700 local time. Unfortunately for Valtteri Bottas, sunbathing looked set to be his main activity in FP2, the Finn managing just two laps before pulling off to the side of the track at Turn 2 after 10 minutes – technical issues once again rearing their head at Alfa Romeo, as a brief Virtual Safety Car period ensued.
With the first medium tyre-shod runs done and dusted – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen heading those from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Leclerc – the teams bolted on the soft tyres, and the serious business of qualifying simulations began on Friday afternoon.
Verstappen threw down the early gauntlet with a 1m 20.006s. But as others headed out on a track that had cooled by a degree or two, Leclerc would ultimately set the session benchmark of 1m 19.670s, to complete a clean sweep of best times from Friday in his own upgraded Ferrari F1-75.
FORMULA 1 PIRELLI GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2022
Practice 2 results
|1 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari||1:19.670|
|2 George Russell RUS Mercedes||+0.117s|
|3 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||+0.204s|
|4 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari||+0.320s|
|5 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||+0.336s|
Mercedes were fast on Friday two weeks ago in Miami and repeated the trick here, as Russell took P2, 0.117s off Leclerc’s pace, and less than a tenth up on team mate Hamilton. That left Sainz P4, with Verstappen ultimately taking P5 – the reigning champion 0.336s off his championship rival Leclerc.
Fernando Alonso made it both Spanish drivers in the top six, as he ended up a promising two-tenths off Verstappen’s time in his Alpine, and ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez – in for his first session of the day after giving up his car to Juri Vips for FP1.
Sebastian Vettel took P8 in the heavily updated Aston Martin AMR22, narrowly ahead of the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon, with Mick Schumacher doing a good job for Haas to round out the top 10.
Traction problems appeared to hamper Pierre Gasly, who complained of getting sideways every time he touched the throttle on his AlphaTauri. But he managed to get the AT03 under control enough to take P11, ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, with Lance Stroll 13th for Aston Martin ahead of the second AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda.
It was a compromised session for McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo not managing a soft tyre run until late in the session and taking 15th, while Lando Norris was forced to miss a chunk of FP2 after running wide at Turn 9 and damaging his floor.
Bottas managed to pip his team mate to 16th despite his early stoppage – Zhou Guanyu having also given up the early afternoon session to Robert Kubica – with Alex Albon taking P18 for Williams, the Thai driver having missed FP1 in favour of Nyck de Vries.
Albon was a full 0.878s up on team mate Nicholas Latifi, as Norris brought up the rear in the second, and heavily updated, McLaren.
So, Ferrari’s updates looked to be working nicely on Friday in Spain – but so do Mercedes’. What can those two teams, plus the likes of Red Bull, Alpine, Aston Martin and the rest, achieve in qualifying on Saturday? Find out at 1600 local time.