MONTMELO, SPAIN - MAY 11: Valtteri Bottas driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 on track during practice for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 11, 2018 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The first two practice sessions on Friday for the Spanish Grand Prix saw Mercedes drivers top the timesheets and the wind caused trouble to most of the cars. Valtteri Bottas was in front of Lewis Hamilton in the first free practice session with the fastest time of the day. Hamilton was fastest in the second free practice session and rounded off a satisfactory Friday for the Silver Arrows.

Free Practice 1 (FP1)

The main takeaways from FP1 were:

  • Valtteri Bottas looks like a man on a mission, his pace was stunning in FP1 and, despite the early trouble, the Finn managed to go fastest in the opening session in Barcelona.
  • Daniel Ricciardo didn’t start the weekend in the best way, the Australian crashed after 11 laps. Whilst his teammate, Max Verstappen was in the top three.
  • Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes maintained their preference for the harder compound tires.
  • Scuderia Ferrari showed their normal Friday pace, with their drivers lining up third (Sebastian Vettel) and fifth (Kimi Raikkonen), 0.9 and 1.3 seconds behind Bottas’ best lap.
  • McLaren‘s upgrades delivered for Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, as the two drivers finished in the top 10.
  • Robert Kubica drove well in FP1, but Williams continue to struggle in 2018. Kubica ended 19th, while Lance Stroll finished in last place ,1.2 seconds behind the Polish driver.

FP1 Results:

Free Practice 2 (FP2)

  • Hamilton and Mercedes maintained their edge over their main rivals. However, Bottas fell from first to fifth.
  • Red Bull Racing drivers, Ricciardo and Verstappen, were second and third and close to Hamilton’s time.
  • Vettel finished fourth 0.3 seconds slower than the fastest car, while Raikkonen suffered an engine issue and ended sixth.
  • Mercedes’ drivers marked their fastest times with the soft tire. Both Hamilton and Bottas lapped on the supersoft tires but couldn’t improve.
  • Hamilton, Bottas, and Verstappen showed a commanding pace with heavy loads of fuel on their cars, whilst Vettel marked the faster laps under those conditions.
  • Stoffel Vandoorne remained inside the top 10, but his teammate at McLaren, Fernando Alonso, fell from sixth in FP1 to twelveth in FP2.
  • Haas‘ drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, did a good job in FP2 and finished seventh and eighth, respectively.

FP2 Results:

Conclusions

Mercedes seems to be the frontrunner for the Spanish GP weekend, however, during the 2018 season, great Fridays haven’t translated into overall success for qualifying and the race. Hamilton and Bottas are the early favorites since the tread change on the Pirelli seems to be a good fit for the German squad, but a lot remains to be seen.

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