Valtteri Bottas set the pace by four-hundredths of a second over teammate Lewis Hamilton in the second practice ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix. The Finn looked to be the stronger of the two Mercedes thought Friday as the team continued to outpace Ferrari.
Bottas’s time was four thousandths faster than his teammate with Mercedes continuing to have a three-tenths advantage over Ferrari. While the practice may not be an accurate indication of form, Mercedes on average have led Ferrari by three tenths throughout the season.
Barcelona is being viewed as a key early test of Bottas’ world title chances, sweeping circuit considered a Hamilton stronghold, with the Englishman winning in three races in the hybrid era.
Charles Leclerc was the faster of the two Ferrari’s after trading times with teammate Sebastian Vettel. Ferrari set the early pace followed by the Mercedes, Leclerc settling eight hundredths ahead of Vettel. But the concern overnight will be the defect to Mercedes.
The Mercedes cars appeared at least half a second quicker than the Ferraris on equivalent tyres, and on the basis of Friday pace, Ferrari looks more likely to be fighting off a threat from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on Sunday than battling Mercedes for the race win.
Verstappen was fifth fastest seven and a half tenths off the pace, the team had been forced to change the engine between the sessions. However, he reported a loss of power that led to him returning to the pits after completing only fifteen laps, although he did return to the track for the final quarter of the session.
Romain Grosjean continued to show progress for Haas, going two tenths faster than his teammate Kevin Magnussen. The US team has emerged as one of the midfield leaders, they led the McLaren of Carlos Sainz by three tenths.
But the two-tenths gap between the two Haas’s can’t be seen as a direct comparison as the Frenchman was running a newer package while Magnussen was on the older spec of car. Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top ten in the Toro Rosso.
Kimi Raikkonen was a late improver, he managed to jump from fifteenth to eleventh putting the Alfa just ahead of the second Toro Rosso of Alex Albon. Lance Stroll recovered from his FP1 crash putting his Racing Point thirteenth but without the latest aero upgrades.
That put him ahead of both the Renaults with Nico Hulkenberg fourteenth and Daniel Ricciardo fifteenth. The French manufacturer was unable to make much progress into the midfield, which remains as tight as ever. McLaren’s Lando Norris wasn’t far behind, showing how close the pace is three tenths off the top ten in sixteenth ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo.
Sergio Perez was eighteenth in the Racing Point, ahead of Williams pair George Russell and Robert Kubica – the latter duo separated by six tenths.
Tomorrow’s qualifying will give us the best indications of whether Ferrari can take the fight to Mercedes.