Valtteri Bottas narrowly beat his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by six-hundredths of a second to top second practice for this weekends British Grand Prix. The Finn set his fastest time early on, going nearly a second faster before Hamilton narrowed the gap.
As expected Mercedes were the clear favorites at the Northamptonshire circuit. Bottas himself is looking to beat his teammate to restart his season, after failing to take victory since Azerbaijan in April. Ferrari meanwhile remains slightly too far off, Charles Leclerc third, but within two tenths.
Hamilton looked to be the stronger of the two on the soft, however, the Mercedes driver suffered understeer at the exit of Becketts on his second flying lap on softs, then aborted his third stab after clocking a time three tenths down on Bottas at the end of Hangar Straight.
Sebastian Vettel was fourth, four tenths off Bottas. The German was one of a number of drivers to drift wide as the wind hit the former airfield. He tried another go on the medium tyres, however, he could not close the half-second gap with clear running.
On the longer runs, both Verstappen and Leclerc ran into severe wear on the left front tyre, which looks like it will be the limiting factor in the race.
Pierre Gasly showed that Red Bull had some pace going fifth, but he finished half a second off the pace, more encouragingly he was within a tenth of the Ferrari.
McLaren continued to show that they are leading the midfield, Lando Norris surviving a wild off through Maggots and Beckets to go sixth. The Bristolian three tenths off Gasly while a hundredth faster than Max Verstappen.
It was another decent afternoon for Toro Rosso, Alex Albon going ninth a tenth quicker than teammate Daniil Kyvat. The British-Thai driver looking to carry the momentum into his home race, however, he was only five thousandths ahead of Racing Points Sergio Perez.
Kevin Magnussen was twelfth ahead of the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen.
Renault struggled to match their strong FP1, Daniel Ricciardo only going fourteenth and Nico Hulkenberg fifteenth. The Australian complained of “crazy understeer” early on, before his car mysteriously switched off at Maggotts during his long run.
Romain Grosjean also had mechanical issues as a hydraulic problem confined the under-pressure Haas driver to the pits for most of the session, while George Russell’s running was limited by gearbox trouble in his Williams.
this was always going to be a track where Mercedes were strong, following Austria you had to put Red Bull in the mix. This circuit rewards high downforce and speed, Ferrari we saw were closer with Charles Leclerc. That gap will open up I believe in FP3 and Qualifying.
One of the things which could be key tomorrow is the wind and track surface. We saw many off the drivers struggle for grip and make mistakes. This will add to an interesting session tomorrow as it could upset some of the cars in terms of balance.