Max Verstappen swept Friday practice for Red Bull Racing, but the Dutchman benefited from Lewis Hamilton having his best lap deleted for track limits.
The Dutchman’s best time of 1m05.412s in his Red Bull was 0.077s slower than Hamilton’s fastest lap, but the Briton was found by the stewards to have run too far wide at Turn 10 and subsequently had the time erased. Hamilton’s next-best time was good enough for only fourth, 0.384s adrift.
His Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, also attracted the attention of the stewards, albeit for the far more serious transgression of spinning in the pit lane.
The Finn lit up his rear wheels exiting his pit box on fresh hard-compound tires to lay down some rubber for the weekend, but he lost control as his rear of the car flicked over the painted advertising line separating the garages from the fast lane, sending him spinning almost 180 degrees.
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“Not good,” radioed his race engineer, Riccardo Musconi, as the Finn sat pointing towards a surprised huddle of McLaren mechanics.
McLaren radioed race director Michael Masi to complain about the “absolutely ridiculous” spin, noting that Bottas “could have taken out” its personnel or collided with the pit wall, and the stewards issued a summons to Bottas and Mercedes for a post-session hearing.
It capped off an uncompetitive afternoon for the Finn, who was unable to squeeze any performance from his first lap on fresh soft tires on his way to 12th in the order and 0.839s slower than Verstappen.
It was a bizarre moment in an otherwise frenetic session as teams sought to conduct as much running as possible in light of the forecast 80 percent chance of showers. The rain never really arrived, though, a light sprinkling not being enough to deter drivers from slick rubber.
Daniel Ricciardo capitalized on the busy hour to put his McLaren second and 0.336s behind Verstappen, and former Renault teammate Esteban Ocon followed for Alpine in third ahead of Hamilton.
Fernando Alonso was fifth to complete a strong afternoon for Alpine, the Spaniard 0.4s off the pace.
Aston Martin took a step forward between sessions, with Sebastian Vettel sixth and Lance Stroll eighth, half a second and 0.6s off the pace. Lando Norris split the pair for seventh.
Sergio Perez was ninth, the Mexican 0.677s slower than his session-topping teammate, while Antonio Giovinazzi completed the top 10 for Alfa Romeo.
Ferrari slipped backwards in the cooling conditions, with Carlos Sainz’s 11th after an off-track excursion through the gravel at Turn 5. Bottas followed, with Charles Leclerc behind him in 13th.
Kimi Raikkonen resumed control of his car from Robert Kubica in the first session but could only manage 14th ahead of Japanese rookie Yuki Tsunoda and Williams driver George Russell.
Haas pair Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin finished 17th and 18th ahead of Nicholas Latifi, who brought out yellow flags early when he ran through the gravel at speed exiting Turn 6.