Sir Lewis Hamilton was fastest after going a tenth faster than Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in the second practice for the Spanish Grand Prix. The seven-time champion set his fastest time on the soft tyres before switching to long runs and that proved to be enough.
Hamilton’s fastest time was set with using a different engine mode, which Mercedes said was about a tenth difference while Verstappen’s best sector was fractionally faster on his best lap. However, the Red Bull driver was left ninth after a mistake at La Caixa where he went too deep.
Hamilton said, “It’s amazing to see the progress Ferrari and McLaren are making, and even Alpine. It’s fantastic to see them so strong.”
Verstappen’s flying lap on the softs came a few minutes after the Mercedes cars, as has become the norm in the shortened FP2 action, and he had to contend with significantly more traffic and error in La Caixa. He was a tenth off the Mercedes on a soft-tyre effort before backing out in the final sector.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was third fastest just under three-hundredths behind Bottas, as the team showed encouraging steps forwards compared to testing and the race last year. But it was a messy session for Red Bull meaning realistically that Leclerc would be in fifth around the same pace as the Alpine.
Alpine showed great pace in the midfield with, Esteban Ocon going fourth eight-hundredths ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso with the team being under half a second off Hamilton’s fastest time. Their nearest rivals were eight hundredths behind with Pierre Gasly ahead of teammate Yuki Tsunoda.
Carlos Sainz was eighth, the Ferrari driver going just over a tenth ahead of Verstappen, but the Spaniard remained around four-tenths behind Leclerc in the tight midfield
The Dutchman finishing the session six tenths off Hamilton setting his fastest time on the medium tyres, with the mistake picking up damage running over the kerbs at the uphill right of Turn Eight in the final few laps after he had completed a pitstop at the end of his race simulation.
Teammate Sergio Perez was three further hundredths behind Verstappen in tenth, but it appears too early to write Red Bull off. The Mexican looked again to struggle to find the limits of the car compared to Verstappen, although his fastest lap did come on medium tyres.
Another surprise was McLaren, who dropped down the order Lando Norris could only manage twelfth behind Sebastian Vettel by three-hundredths of a second. McLaren looked solid in FP1, but the team slipped out of the midfield, Daniel Ricciardo in fifteenth, a tenth behind Norris.
Antonio Giovinazzi was thirteenth six thousandths ahead of the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll.
Kimi Raikkonen was sixteenth nine thousandths ahead of the two Williams. George Russell going seventeenth after having near enough the same margin over his teammate Nicolas Latifi.
The two Haas’s rounded out the field, Mick Schumacher was nineteenth going four-tenths faster than his teammate Nikita Mazepin.