BARCELONA, Spain — Under sunny skies at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Friday, Mercedes AMG Petronas posted a double one-two performance, with three-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton topping both free practice sessions.
After the Silver Arrows held a nine-tenth of a second advantage over the field in FP1, Hamilton stormed to a lap of 1:20.802 on the soft tires in FP2, leading teammate Valtteri Bottas by .090 of a second.
“First practice was very, very good … but in second practice, the track changed and shifted quite a lot, so it was slippery and quite a lot slower for everyone – especially with the gusts of wind,” said Hamilton. “It was massively challenging, but still fun nonetheless. The team has done an amazing job with the upgrades and the car is working just as we expected. It’s been a much better start to the weekend for me than in Sochi, so I’m very happy. We’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep working, because we want to be number one.”
Bottas was the runner-up on both sets of time sheets, clocking a top time of 1:20.892 in the final round.
Though Ferrari had work to do after FP1 to close the gap to their title rivals, Kimi Raikkonen shaved the margin down to just three tenths by day’s end, landing third ahead of his teammate Sebastian Vettel in both rounds.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were fifth and sixth in the order both times out, followed in final practice and on the overall time sheets by the Renault pair of Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer, as well as Williams’ Felipe Massa and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz.
First practice saw the Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean slot in seventh and eighth, respectively, followed by Hulkenberg and Sainz. However, the American cars dropped to 11th (Grosjean) and 15th (Magnussen) in the second session.
Opening practice saw Vettel’s efforts hampered by a gearbox issue, while home country favorite and two-time champion Fernando Alonso barely made three corners before his McLaren-Honda engine expired, forcing the team to make a change prior to the final round.
Qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix takes place at 8 a.m. ET on Saturday, with same-day tape-delayed coverage at 4:30 p.m. on NBCSN.
Full practice results can be viewed on the next page…