Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2021

Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two, Verstappen ninth in second practice

2021 Spanish Grand Prix second practice

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Lewis Hamilton led a one-two for Mercedes in the second practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix, comfortably ahead of closest championship rivals Red Bull.

Red Bull placed ninth and tenth, after what had – at times – looked like a scruffy session. However, towards the end of second practice it became clear, via radio messages, that they were satisfied with their race simulations. Max Verstappen was told that it looked as though the front left tyre would be key for management and at the chequered flag, Sergio Perez was informed that they were precisely on the right pace versus Mercedes’ race simulation times.

The midfield was led by Charles Leclerc, who followed the Mercedes closely, just a few hundredths of a second behind Bottas’ time. The Alpine cars again looked strong in the changeable conditions, with Esteban Ocon leading Fernando Alonso in fourth and fifth.

AlphaTauri had anticipated struggling at Barcelona due to the low-speed final sector. However, they followed the Alpine cars, Yuki Tsunoda Tsunoda closely matching Pierre Gasly’s time – unlike in the morning session – but the Red Bull cars being out of place showed them higher up the order than they might have otherwise been.

After drivers had primarily run on hard tyres this morning, with very few teams taking the opportunity to work on medium tyres, every driver did at least two runs on the yellow-walled compound this afternoon. However, qualifying simulation laps were still set on soft tyres.

Second practice was slightly warmer than first practice, but with stronger winds that repeatedly changed direction over the course of the session. For teams like Williams, whose car is particularly sensitive to changeable conditions, there was a distinct impact on pace – Roy Nissany and Nicholas Latifi had placed 16th and 17th fastest this morning and been higher up at points during the session but were a distant 17th and 18th this afternoon, Russell seven tenths of a second back from Raikkonen in 16th.

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2021 Spanish Grand Prix second practice result

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’18.17032
277Valtteri BottasMercedes1’18.3090.13931
316Charles LeclercFerrari1’18.3350.16528
431Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’18.4660.29629
514Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’18.5180.34830
610Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’18.5930.42332
722Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’18.6190.44930
855Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’18.6740.50430
933Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’18.7850.61526
1011Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’18.9180.74823
115Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’18.9470.77730
124Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’19.0920.92228
1399Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’19.1220.95229
1418Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’19.1340.96429
153Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’19.1951.02528
167Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’19.2131.04330
1763George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’19.9571.78729
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’20.0461.87626
1947Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’20.3262.15630
209Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’20.7532.58327

Second practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’18.170

+0.139 Valtteri Bottas – 1’18.309

+0.165 Charles Leclerc – 1’18.335

+0.296 Esteban Ocon – 1’18.466

+0.348 Fernando Alonso – 1’18.518

+0.423 Pierre Gasly – 1’18.593

+0.449 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’18.619

+0.504 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’18.674

+0.615 Max Verstappen – 1’18.785

+0.748 Sergio Perez – 1’18.918

+0.777 Sebastian Vettel – 1’18.947

+0.922 Lando Norris – 1’19.092

+0.952 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’19.122

+0.964 Lance Stroll – 1’19.134

+1.025 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’19.195

+1.043 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’19.213

+1.787 George Russell – 1’19.957

+1.876 Nicholas Latifi – 1’20.046

+2.156 Mick Schumacher – 1’20.326

+2.583 Nikita Mazepin – 1’20.753

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2021 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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43 comments on “Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two, Verstappen ninth in second practice”

  1. Dan Rooke (@geekzilla9000)
    7th May 2021, 15:06

    Looks like Alpine found a switch that was flicked off for the first 2 races!

    1. More interesting – Ocon faster on mediums than Alonso on softs.

      1. @scbriml

        Even Bottas’ fastest time was set on mediums.

      2. Ocon’s best time was on softs.

      3. This means nothing

  2. That tight field… Q2 will be lit.

  3. Mercedes on fire. Red Bull sandbagging? Would be unusual for them to hide qualy pace.

    1. On track Verstappen certainly didn’t look like he was (just) sandbagging; Perez also didn’t look great on his fast lap, though at least his race pace was reasonable.

      1. You´re right. Looks like he is using all track limits to find more speed.

      2. With exception to the 1st 4 laps, his long run pace looked really strong.

    2. Red Bull haven’t shown their full pace, but more by accident – Verstappen was on a very quick qualifying simulation lap, having matched Hamilton in the first two sectors, but he went too wide in Turn 10 and backed off.

    3. ian dearing
      7th May 2021, 17:02

      If they are not sandbagging then as Karun pointed out they are now 11k slower down the straights than the AT. So given Max’s demeanor I’d guess a little sandbagging is in play.

  4. Meanwhile Toto: ‘ We are not the fastest. RBR are 1 sec ahead.’

    1. @knightameer They said Red Bull was ahead when Verstappen was fastest in every session in Bahrain including the race. Even 8 tenths ahead in FP3!

      Though it was Verstappen who stated that Spain would be good for Red Bull, if they managed to find a good setup. Guess that’s where he’s lacking again then. Luckily they have Perez to help with that …

    2. Verstappen made a mistake on his flying lap and had to abort.
      It’s just a FP, matters nothing anyway.

      1. Indeed, he was just practicing exceeding track limits. Lol

  5. for race_weekend in 2021_season_calender:
    Toto: Thats a good session guys. But we are in this position because Red Bull messed up or didnt show their pace yet.
    Lewis to Sky: Well it was a good session for us. I think Red Bull is not showing their full pace yet.

    Again Toto: Well we are expecting at least one car to be in Q3 and get point from there on

    Lewis += 26 pts
    Bottas += 18 or 15 Pts
    Sunday: Get in there Lewis !!!!!

    1. Business as usual

  6. What happened to Red Bull? This was one of their worst practice sessions in as long as I can remember. Let’s hope they’re sandbagging.. because having Alpine and Alpha Tauri ahead of them on the grid would be embarrassing.
    Mclaren seem a little out of sorts this weekend as well. Really doubt Norris could pull off another best of the rest weekend. Leclerc, Ocon and Gasly should have a mega battle among themselves for best of the rest this weekend.

    Mercedes has this one in the bag already. I don’t think they even need to show up on race day. Let’s just give Lewis 26 points and Bottas 18 points and let the rest of the drivers race on Sunday. Should be a cracker of a race between the remaining 9 teams.

    1. Are you basing it just on the headline times?

      Verstappen failed to set a proper qualifying lap after running wide in Turn 10, but was on the pace until then – his race pace SIM started slow, but he was later on a similar pace to the Mercedes drivers too. They also seemed happy with Perez too, even if his outright pace wasn’t stunning, judging by the radio messages they gave him.

      From what we saw earlier in the session and later on too, they have a lot more in hand than the summary table might suggest.

      1. I actually saw the entire FP2 session live and based my statement on what I saw. Maybe Red Bull had turned their engines down.. because even on Sergio’s error free run he didn’t get within half a second of Mercedes. Mercedes looked comfortably ahead.. and Ferrari looked pretty strong as well.

      2. Yeah I think Red Bull had a bit of a disjointed session due to running wide/traffic which prevented them from setting the headlines alight. With regards to the start of the Race Pace Sim, what I heard is that RB were testing where the tires could be pushed and how long for, so were only doing 1 or 2 sectors a time at full pace, then backing off.

      3. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        7th May 2021, 16:18

        He was slightly slower and to negotiate turn 10 he would of been slower still.

        Until the lap is completed it is what it is. To say he would of been good without the error is how come he is behind in the championship.

      4. Red Bull doing long runs on the softs is likely because that’s what they think they’ll be starting the race on

    2. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend)
      7th May 2021, 18:56

      @todfod it’s Friday practice. Any conclusions made today are very likely to be wrong.

    3. @todfod – Toro Rosso was faster by 11 kmph on the straight. This means that Red Bull turned down their engines. There’s no need to go any faster on Fridays. BTW, Verstappen was about 2 tenths down on Bottas (or Hamilton, whoever was the fastest at that time), but he then backed off because he made an error, running wide in turn 10.
      My prognosis is that tomorrow Alpine will fight for top 10 with 1 car (Ocon), and Red Bull will qualify in 3rd for Verstappen and 4-6 for Perez at worst.

  7. What would be the typical scenario in terms of when teams run race and when quali simulations in FP1, FP2, and FP3?

    1. @j-l Race runs is typically only the last 20-30 minutes at the end of FP2, now that the sessions have been shortened from 1.5 hrs to 1. FP3 is typically for outright qual pace.

      1. Thanks @balue I’m not that well-versed in the practice runs. Is it safe to say that FP1 is usually focused on the car setup?

        1. @j-l Yes and also trying new parts, mappings etc. That’s when they’ll run the aero rakes, flow viz paint etc. Before this year when the sessions were 1.5 hours it was a lot more of that. Now that it’s just 1 hour, it’s more on setup work like you say.

          But even within that frame, teams will vary their strategy. Alpine have for example already this year changed their focus more to outright pace for qualifying than race related stuff like tyre wear etc.

          1. Makes sense, thanks again @balue !

  8. Is Red Bull running the standby engine mode? I hope to hear reversed tone:
    Roses are Blue, Violet are Red, Mercedes fastest, Red Bull 1-2.

    1. I think at any race this year a mercedes 1-2 is far more likely than a red bull 1-2, the last time that happened was malaysia 2016, the famous race where hamilton had an engine problem that cost him the title, after that they had a big chance, I was really sad to not see it happen, in mexico 2018, verstappen was dominating, they had the fastest car, ricciardo was keeping vettel behind, then had an engine issue or something, now finally they got a 2nd decent driver but bottas still seems to be closer to the front on average, and mercedes seems the best car overall so far, since they have improved in relation to red bull in the early season.

  9. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    7th May 2021, 18:24

    Both Redbull and Mercedes are running lower power modes so the gap to the rest will open up come Saturday. On balance, the Mercedes looks on the oversteer twitchy side whereas the Redbull looks to be understeering. I expect both to dial those problems out overnight. Overall, Mercedes might have the advantage here which isn’t surprising seeing as historically their design philosophy has gone well here. Pole is very important as the lead car can drive to it’s own pace in the first two sectors without threat from behind, and then there’s who gets off the line best. After that it’s a done race, unless of course it’s Bottas in the lead. Then Lewis and possibly Max can play tyre games and pass with an overcut / extended stint. Not expecting a much different race from the last 5 years.
    What is interesting is the battle for 5th. Lando vs Charles.

  10. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    7th May 2021, 18:26

    Did anyone see Lewis giving @dieterrencken fashion tips in the driver’s press conference!

  11. Can I say….hahahahahahahaha?

  12. By the looks of it…yes I can

  13. So far 2021 season has shown that Merc still have the best car
    I believe the more realistic measure between Merc and RB is to watch Bottas vs Peres as Hamilton and Verstappen are freaks and outperform their cars.

    Reply moderated
  14. The article (I know reading the article on a comment board is lame) says rbr were happy with their race pace and that it was comparable to Mercedes. So let’s not all get the vapors just yet. Also the idea that alpha tauri is faster than rbr, just, no. Let’s see what fp3 holds.

    1. Yes, you can just see how many teams were faster than red bull, unreasonable, even though mercedes worries me and I already said it yday.

    2. @dmw Red Bull was on softs and Mercedes on mediums. It’s just not mentioned in the article as that doesn’t fit the narrative.

  15. To be honest, Friday’s sessions are now becoming almost meaningless for us watching them because all the teams are doing in the limited time they have available is collecting data without really focussing on a Qualy lap simulation to any large degree.

    There’s not enough time to do more that throw one effort at it, bail if it’s not going right and then work on long runs to get data.

    I’m losing interest fast in the FP sessions because they’re meaningless and essentially just feature cars running lots of not particularly flat out laps.

    Keeps the family happy though because it’s giving them back 4 hours (3 this year) of TV time if I stop watching FP’s.

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