It was the two Ferrari’s that topped the timesheets in yesterday’s first practice session at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, with Sebastian Vettel edging out on teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
Mercedes, unlike the two Ferrari’s, chose to remain on the medium compound tyre, and finished the session half a second behind the red cars, with current championship leader Nico Rosberg edging out on teammate Lewis Hamilton.
In his Red Bull debut, Max Verstappen completed the session to finish in sixth place behind his new teammate Daniel Ricciardo, whilst Daniil Kvyat, debuting his return to former team Torro Rosso, finished twelfth, half a second and four places behind teammate Carlos Sainz.
Esteban Ocon, who was competing on FP1 in place of Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, had a rather disappointing session, only completing six laps of the track before stopping due to a technical issue with his car.
Force India’s Sergio Perez also suffered from problems, mechanical ones that the team managed to repair, allowing Perez to go back to the track to complete the session.
The whole session was very close, with less than a second between eighth and fourteenth place.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was pleased with the session, finishing within the top ten, whereas teammate Jenson Button was a lot less happy, finishing in nineteenth place- a whole 1.4s behind his teammate, and also complained of issues with the handling of the car during the session.
Haas driver Romain Grosjean also had a disappointing session- naming his car a “disaster” in the low-speed corners around the track. Grosjean, along with teammate Esteban Gutierrez, did not set a time in the first half of the session, finishing sixteenth, with Gutierrez in seventeenth.
The was also some action in the session- a few off-track moments for Hamilton, one off-track moment for Raikkonen, and a spin by Felipe Massa.
Mercedes and Ferrari battled it out yet again in the second practice session yesterday, however Mercedes came out on top, with Nico Rosberg topping the timesheets this time, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen a quarter of a second behind. They were then followed by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. It was the first comparison we got between the two cars during this weekend, as they were both running on the soft compound tyre.
Raikkonen set his time first, and might’ve gone faster if it wasn’t for a fuel system problem that befell his car, leaving Rosberg to then lap faster, setting the pace for the session. Hamilton, stuck behind the Sauber of Felipe Massa, only managed to come in third, and Vettel finishing in fourth, with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz coming in fifth, at his home race, beating new teammate Daniil Kvyat, who grasped fifteenth place at the end of the session.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo then finished behind them, followed by Fernando Alonso in his quickly-improving McLaren, then Ricciardo’s new teammate Max Verstappen. Force India’s Sergio Perez and teammate Nico Hulkenburg completed the top ten.
It was a challenging afternoon for the Williams however, with Valterri Bottas finishing eleventh, with teammate Felipe Massa in sixteenth. Renault’s Jolyon Palmer had a difficult session after missing FP1 as Esteban Ocon drove for it, however Palmer met trouble in the second session, then he had his rear-left tyre deflate soon after the start of the session.
Due to this, the virtual safety car was deployed, before the session was stopped after a red flag for eight minutes as the car was removed from the track. Later, however, Palmer got going in his car again, and managed to salvage a time in the final twenty minutes, finishing seventeenth.
As Sauber and Haas struggled to complete the session successfully, the newly improved Manors finished eighteenth and nineteenth.
An overview of Saturday to follow.