Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo do Algarve, 2021

Hamilton keeps Mercedes ahead of Verstappen in second practice

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix second practice

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Mercedes were quickest in second practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix, but unlike in the first session Lewis Hamilton was the driver who led the way.

It was considerably windier for this session, as expected, and overall times were not as quick as the morning session. Hamilton and, close behind him, Max Verstappen were the only drivers to dip below a 1’20 lap.

A delayed start due to repairs to drainage in one of the tracks outer kerbs did not lead to a reduction in the session time, still running to an hour.

The Ferrari drivers switched their order, compared to the first session but were still able to place a car fourth, this time Carlos Sainz Jnr while team mate Charles Leclerc was seventh-fastest. They sandwiched the Alpine cars, who indicated a much stronger pace than they had previously shown this season. Bottas, Sainz, Alonso and Ocon were all within six tenths of each other at the end of the session.

No great dramas occurred, however, the track was extremely busy for much of the session with most cars out on track at any one time. That led to some complaints about traffic. Sergio Perez found Nikita Mazepin in his way while starting a hot lap and had to go for a second installation run, on a circuit where tyre windows seem to be frustrating to find. Nicholas Latifi also slid through the gravel at turn eight but was able to rejoin, after braking too hard while trying to stay off the racing line.

Max Verstappen reported early on in the session that he had a brake-by-wire failure but Red Bull seemed able to fix the issue, as he continued to set laps after a brief pit stop.

McLaren, who have shown strong pace in the first two rounds of this season, seemed a little adrift at Portimao and ended the session with Ricciardo eighth and Norris twelfth. Pierre Gasly was also uncharacteristically far down the order, in eleventh, while AlphaTauri team mate Yuki Tsunoda was fourteenth, neither with apparent issues. Sergio Perez finished the session tenth and half a second behind Verstappen.

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2021 Portuguese Grand Prix second practice result

Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’19.837 33
2 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1’19.980 0.143 26
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’20.181 0.344 28
4 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 1’20.197 0.360 33
5 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1’20.220 0.383 31
6 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1’20.235 0.398 31
7 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’20.360 0.523 33
8 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1’20.418 0.581 30
9 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’20.427 0.590 31
10 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1’20.516 0.679 28
11 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1’20.558 0.721 34
12 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1’20.757 0.920 28
13 63 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1’20.976 1.139 32
14 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1’21.053 1.216 33
15 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’21.074 1.237 32
16 7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’21.225 1.388 22
17 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’21.238 1.401 32
18 47 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1’21.537 1.700 29
19 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1’21.855 2.018 31
20 9 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1’22.638 2.801 28

Second practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’19.837

+0.143 Max Verstappen – 1’19.980

+0.344 Valtteri Bottas – 1’20.181

+0.360 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’20.197

+0.383 Fernando Alonso – 1’20.220

+0.398 Esteban Ocon – 1’20.235

+0.523 Charles Leclerc – 1’20.360

+0.581 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’20.418

+0.590 Lance Stroll – 1’20.427

+0.679 Sergio Perez – 1’20.516

+0.721 Pierre Gasly – 1’20.558

+0.920 Lando Norris – 1’20.757

+1.139 George Russell – 1’20.976

+1.216 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’21.053

+1.237 Sebastian Vettel – 1’21.074

+1.388 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’21.225

+1.401 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’21.238

+1.700 Mick Schumacher – 1’21.537

+2.018 Nicholas Latifi – 1’21.855

+2.801 Nikita Mazepin – 1’22.638

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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46 comments on “Hamilton keeps Mercedes ahead of Verstappen in second practice”

  1. So…….. will Vettel see out the season?

    1. Of course he will. Or perhaps you think he and Stroll were practicing the same things? I know as a team principal I’d have them on different programs to suss things out better. SV, just as SP and DR and CSjr deserve more time than two races and two practices to work and gel with their cars and teams.

      1. Whilst what you say may be true, it’s becoming noticeable that Vettel is seemingly always on the slower strategy runs.

      2. that is all very well but he *always* looks bad these days. not a single sign of life. against Sir Lancelot no less…

        1. Stroll is the engrained one on the team. SV should be given more time and patience or F1 is too easy. I’m not saying if in a number more races SV isn’t much closer that wouldn’t be embarrassing for SV, but for the time being I think the derision of SV is unwarranted. Especially using a practice session for ‘evidence’ when we have no idea what they were working on vs Stroll’s side of the garage. Especially too if the AM is suffering more from the floor changes, we know SV likes/needs a planted back end, and all the more reason while Stroll may be suffering the same issues, he is already that much more comfortable in the car in other aspects that he is on a much lesser learning curve than SV and might well be making up for a problem with grip in the back in other ways.

          1. Hulkenberg’s cameo performances last year would indicate that top drivers do not need more time and patience. Veterans receive veteran salaries because they don’t need time to gain experience.

          2. @jimfromus I would suggest a one-race cameo isn’t proof of anything, and that more time and patience would indeed see him do even better. Given a second race perhaps he would have looked much less impressive under a different day, time, track scenario, set of circumstances etc etc. What did Hulk really do with all the time he had in F1?

          3. @robbie I would suggest that the reason why Vettel is being judged relatively harshly is because many think that, given the problems he has had with his form over the past few years, it has now become an ingrained trait and his form isn’t likely to rebound.

            Whilst the most recent cars he had at Ferrari did not seem to gel well with his driving style, at the same time there was a perception that Vettel was also kind of lost when it came to working out how he could potentially try to adapt to those cars.

            It is true that all of the drivers who have changed teams have had their share of difficulties, and it didn’t help that Vettel was particularly badly hit due to the gearbox failure he had during testing, meaning he is particularly inexperienced.

            Against that, there is that perception that he doesn’t yet know how he will recover from that point, and some who felt that his collision with Ocon in Bahrain has already set him off on the wrong path that means there will be no way up from here. Whether you agree with that overall is another matter, but that is how I perceive some of the criticism that is being levelled against Vettel as being based on.

          4. anon Oh for sure I do agree and I was going to point that out too, as I know SV has developed a reputation for not being what he used to be at RBR, but I was just sort of trying to move past that on his behalf lol, and am hoping he can start a new chapter, as in, ‘a change is as good as a rest,’ and am truly hoping for him that he just needs the same time the likes of SP has said he’d like at RBR for example, to settle in.

    2. What do you mean? He is doing his job perfectly. Stroll now gets to add beating 4 time WDC to his resume 🙄

      1. someone or something
        30th April 2021, 18:35

        Yup. Some dads buys their sons expensive cars, some dads buy their sons entire Formula One teams and multiple world champions. Except maybe for respect, there’s nothing money can’t buy. And even on the respect side, things are moving in the desired direction.

    3. Lorrydriver1
      30th April 2021, 17:02

      Will Perez line up at the next race? I predicted he will have three races for RB and then get demoted. I’m going aggressive with that prediction but here is the thing. I went back and watched his Maclaren years and what was shocking which doesn’t get mentioned often is the number of unforced crashes he had in free practice during that year. Everyone’s focus was on the race results but the teams sees their data during practice has to rebuilt crashed cars for quali and can see who has talent and who doesn’t. OK many of his unforced crashes were in Hungary so perhaps he has an issue with the track..but he lost it several times at maclaren and completely totalled the car. Probably why they dropped him too to save cash on rebuilds.

      1. @Lorrydriver1 If Red Bull drops him, that would be it for him. I’m not sure placing him at AT would be an option since his contractual situation isn’t necessarily the same as Gasly’s and Tsunoda’s as he didn’t come from Red Bull’s driver program. What would RBR achieve by axing him during this season anyway?

      2. I have no idea who you expect them to replace perez with.

        1. Yeah I think it a ridiculous notion to think anything other than that SP is doing fine at RBR and may well continue on with them after this season. My goodness, it’s been two race weekends and two practice sessions.

          1. My goodness, it’s been two race weekends and two practice sessions.

            yes, and still Perez has shown *something*. that is the thing really, great drivers have bad luck and off days too, but there is always *something* positive going on. it is never this Perpetual circle of misery vettel has been in for a solid 1-3 years now depending on how harsh you want to be

          2. Lorrydriver1
            30th April 2021, 18:22

            Isn’t that the trouble? think Shumi, Senna, Hami, Max being dropped into a faster car. Do they just “show something”. And these were rookies. That wasn’t the basis on which Checo was hired.

            Anyway my prediction was 3 races so it was probably wrong but if it happens you heard it here first. I am beginning to wonder does anyone know what his contract says? The 5 race to “get comfi in the car”, is that perhaps baked-into the contract?

          3. SV is not in nearly as good a car as Perez who is likely feeling he is far and away in the best car he’s ever had. If the back end of the AM isn’t planted there’s only so much he’ll be able to do until they sort that, and it sounds especially tricky this weekend. I’ve got lots more patience for SV…not unlimited patience though.

          4. Whereas Perez to me is already showing obvious signs of progress and of course the 5 races aren’t a contracted thing. It’s just a number he threw out to imply it takes time, and as I say we should want it to take time if F1 is to be the pinnacle, and not too easy, but rather, challenging.

        2. Lorrydriver1
          30th April 2021, 18:25

          Albon..why else is he still in the stable?

          1. Well, at least you gave a suggestion about the potential replacement driver, but I disagree, I think albon is done with formula 1, he’s good enough in the midfield, but he isn’t able to make the jump and drive properly at a top team, like gasly and some other past drivers, fisichella, frentzen, etc., the thing is those drivers just lack speed in a top team, while perez just made some mistakes but immediately showed speed, outqualifying verstappen and almost getting a pole at the 2nd qualifying, while being a better race driver; you can correct mistakes, but recovering a 1 sec gap per lap is an impossible task, so perez has more red bull potential than either albon or gasly, in fact if you go check 2015, even kvyat showed more speed at red bull than those 2 did.

        3. Bottas will be available and is a great wingman with a lot of wingman experience.

      3. Lorrydriver1, why are you using Perez’s performances at McLaren in 2013 as a benchmark though? It seems a bit odd to base your assessment solely on his performances 8 years ago and to leave out the vast bulk of Perez’s career in the sport.

        There were also suggestions that his departure from McLaren really was more about internal politics, given that it coincided with Ron Dennis’s return to the helm of the racing department and Ron had spent most of the 2013 season preparing his move to push Whitmarsh out and to stamp his authority back onto the team.

        Perez was associated with Whitmarsh’s time at the team, whilst Magnussen was a driver whom Ron Dennis had picked out for McLaren’s junior team and very much his driver. It’s been suggested that Dennis’s decision to appoint Magnussen was thus really more of a statement of his authority within the team than about performances.

        By personally intervening in the driver selection process in such a direct manner and putting the driver he backed into that seat, the suggestion is that he was symbolically making a clean break from Whitmarsh’s time in charge and emphasising that he was the one calling the shots at the team by imposing his choice of driver onto the team.

    4. I was going to write the same

  2. I missed most of it, is there a clear reason why the top times are about 2 tenth of a second off from FP1?

    1. It was pretty windy i think

    2. Strong winds and relatively high track temperatures (39°C).

  3. Very encouraging from Alpine. I really hope they can keep up this kind of form in qualifying and the race.

    1. Looked more like glory runs to me. Their long runs seemed very inconsistent, although not too shabby on their quicker laps on high fuel (about 0.5 slower than Ferrari).
      But there is no way they are suddenly at the top of the midfield.

    2. It seems the typical smoke of the team where Fernando “the Friday King” Alonso is…

  4. Watching OnBoards from both Haas cars during the sessions today on the Sky app & that car was trying to throw the drivers off the track at every opportunity.

    I don’t recall it looking anywhere near this bad last year so I guess that they simply haven’t recovered the lost downforce from the floor changes like the other teams seem to have.

    1. Which for sure then means if they can’t get the tires to work then it is like they are on ice.

    2. Pretty sure they said they aren’t bothering this year at all while they focus on next year. That was supposed to be the idea of delaying the new aero regulations for another year after all.

      It’s actually crazy how much development some teams have put in for this one year.

    3. And that paint job is helping things.

      1. Isn’t helping.

    4. They have said that they did the minimum amount of work possible to make the car comply with the new rules – they didn’t even bother using any tokens and stopped all development work before the season started.

      Given the new rules were cutting rear downforce, it is quite likely that the car has an aero balance that is far too far forwards when compared to the static weight distribution, and the suspension geometry probably isn’t helping either. It all adds up to a fairly terrible car and an awful handling balance.

      1. @anon Yes this was my thinking too. They basically didn’t change the car at all since last season so they are trying to counter the loss in rear downforce with setup and maybe taking some front wing off, which is a horribly inefficient way to adapt to a significant change, but also the only thing they could do if they have zero budget to design a new car for this season.

        Having said that, Mazepin has been woefully off Schumacher’s pace in pretty much every session so far. It went under the radar but he seemed to be lapping 1.5-2 seconds off his pace in Imola, and although it’s only free practice he has not been much better here so far. I know he wasn’t exactly outstanding in the junior categories but I didn’t expect him to be so thoroughly outclassed against a fellow rookie.

    5. Yes. The onboards showed just how hard it is to tackle the unpredictable car in the corners.

      1. And such a shame so much of the art these days, and from what they are saying about practice today at this track for all drivers even, is in getting the tires to work properly. That must be near impossible with the unbalanced downforce-lacking Haas cars.

  5. Solid running by all drivers across both sessions. Getting me excited for qually!

    1. Yeah, a second covers most of the field. Qualifying should be good.

  6. Toto: ohh no the Red bull’s and Ferraris are really close. We are going to need a miracle to score points

    1. You even had the obligatory radio message from Hamilton saying “Argh… these tyres aren’t good”. I mean seriously is anyone actually going to fall for this anymore.

      1. Was that before or after Max set a lap within a tenth of the top time whilst telling the team the vibrations from the tyres was so bad the car was undriveable and that he couldnt see the track?
        Because if he can set that time in an undrivable car when he couldnt see where he was going then Ham and the rest clearly do have tyre problems.

    2. next time use all cylinders..

  7. Bottas, Sainz, Alonso and Ocon were all within six tenths of each other

    you mean six hundredths @keithcollantine

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