Lewis Hamilton ensured Mercedes topped both Friday practice sessions at the Spanish Grand Prix but Red Bull and Ferrari both closed the gap in FP2.
While Valtteri Bottas had dominated in the opening session, Hamilton set the pace with a 1m18.259s on the soft compound tire. Unusually for Friday’s second practice session, drivers were quickest on a variety of compounds when usually the softest is used, but the comparison of the top two was simple enough as Daniel Ricciardo was just 0.133s adrift of Hamilton and also on the soft tire.
Ricciardo recovered from his crash in FP1 to play his part in an encouraging session for Red Bull, with Max Verstappen third quickest on the supersoft compound with a 1:18.533. The only blemish was a spin for Verstappen at Turn 2 late in the session, with conditions remaining tricky due to strong winds in Barcelona.
Sebastian Vettel was fourth fastest for Ferrari on the supersoft tire, ending up 0.326s adrift of Hamilton and only 0.026s ahead of Valtteri Bottas – also on supersofts – in fifth place. While Kimi Raikkonen was half a second off the pace in sixth place on softs, the Finn was the source of concern for Ferrari.
Raikkonen went off at Turn 4 and had to recover through the gravel trap, but shortly after rejoining suffered a power unit problem on the run to Turn 10. As the Ferrari was flat out with his DRS open, a puff of smoke was visible from the rear of the car and Raikkonen immediately slowed. He was told to stop the car but had enough momentum to reach Turn 13 and roll downhill into the pit lane and return to the garage, but did not rejoin the session.
Another driver to hit trouble was Romain Grosjean, who spun off at Turn 7 early in the session, swapping ends at relatively high speed and becoming beached in the gravel. Fortunately for Grosjean, the car was able to be returned to the pit lane from that position and he returned later on to secure seventh place overall. However, the gap between the top three and the rest was clear, with Grosjean’s best time some 1.3s off the pace and 0.8s behind Raikkonen.
Kevin Magnussen backed up his teammate with the eighth-fastest time after escaping from FP1 with only a reprimand for blocking Charles Leclerc at high speed, while Stoffel Vandoorne and Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10.
Despite a solid performance, Perez ended the session by the side of the track after a problem following a pit stop. Having changed tires during the long runs late on, Perez was approaching Turn 7 when his left-front wheel worked loose, and he stopped on the run to Turn 9. Asked by his team to return to the pits if it was safe, Perez attempted to continue but then stopped a few hundred yards later and jumped out of his car before helping marshals move it.
Encouragingly for Force India, Perez set his best lap on the soft tires compared to the supersofts used by the three cars directly ahead of him, while Fernando Alonso in 12th set his best time on the mediums and was within half a second of Grosjean in seventh.
Renault appeared to struggle in the afternoon session with Nico Hulkenberg 13th and Carlos Sainz 17th, while Williams again propped up the times with Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin – 19th and 20th respectively – over 3.2s off the pace.