Formula 1

Mercedes VS Ferrari in Spanish FP1+2

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg both topped a practice session apiece ahead of what promises to be an interesting qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg both topped a practice session apiece ahead of what promises to be an interesting qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

The fact that it was Friday the 13th didn’t seem to deter the drivers from on track action in the first two practice sessions, as Formula 1 enters the European leg of the 2016 season. Free practice 1 was dominated by the Ferrari of Vettel, who finished the session with a time of 1:23.951, already seven tenths up on the pole time round this track last year. His team mate Kimi Raikkonen, was 0.138 seconds off Vettel’s fastest time, meaning the Ferrari’s finished the session 1-2. Though those of you celebrating a downturn in Mercedes pace should note the Ferrari’s set their fastest time of the session of the soft tyres. The Mercedes of Rosberg, and team mate Lewis Hamilton, set their times on the medium compound. Rosberg got to within half a second of the Ferrari’s time, which is significant as around the Circuit de Catalunya, the softs are on average half a second a lap faster. Rosberg’s team mate Hamilton, was a further tenth off of Rosberg’s time in fourth place.

Meanwhile, it was time for Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen to let their driving do the talking, following Red Bull’s decision to swap the two for the rest of the season. Verstappen didn’t disappoint in his first outing in the RB12, finishing sixth, just a tenth behind his new team mate Daniel Ricciardo. Though Verstappen did have a hairy moment in turn 1 on his first flying lap. It was not the dream return to Toro Rosso for Kvyat. He finished in 12th place, a whole four positions behind team mate Carlos Sainz, who managed the 8th fastest time of the session. It is worth remembering that both drivers are still getting used to their new cars. So it will be interesting to watch the pair later on. Both Williams cars featured in the top ten for FP1 too. The team were 7th and 9th with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa respectively, while McLaren’s Fernando Alonso finished 10th.

Elsewhere Esteban Ocon made his practice debut for Renault, replacing British driver Jolyon Palmer. However, the 19-year-old Frenchman’s debuted was pretty much a write off following technical gremlins. Or maybe it was Friday the 13th bad luck, as many teams seemed to suffer from hiccups with the cars throughout the practice session.

In Free practice 2 Rosberg set the fastest time of the session on a 1:23.922, which was the fastest time of the day as well. However, Mercedes didn’t get it all their own way as the Ferrari of Raikkonen was second, just 0.254 seconds off of Rosberg’s time. What was more impressive was the fact the Ferrari set the time on a used set of soft compound tyres, showing just how much pace the Ferrari has around the track. As well as highlighting the battle we may be treated to for pole position tomorrow in qualifying.

“It is definitely tighter in Barcelona because of all the testing the teams know the set up,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff after FP2. “But it is tricky, you could see that Lewis wasn’t really happy with his car, so we haven’t found the sweet spot yet.”

Hamilton finished the session in 3rd place with a time of 1:24.641, after his run was compromised by a mixture of traffic and simple mistakes. He did however finish ahead of Ferrari’s Vettel. Who trailed Hamilton with a final time of 1:25.017.

Home grown Toro Rosso talent Sainz also impressed in a weekend that had been dominated by his team mate swap so far. The Spaniard finished an impressive 5th on front of both Red Bull drivers, and a missive 2 seconds ahead of team mate Kvyat. Riccardo finished in 6th place still two tenths ahead of team mate Verstappen, with the McLaren of Alonso splitting them. The McLaren was showing some real pace during the practice session. It has been revealed before FP2 the team have new front and rear wings here, as well as revised brake duct and floor changes on the MP4-31. The Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10.

Renault’s Friday the 13th gremlins carried on plaguing them in FP2. As once again Palmers car bore the brunt of the bad luck, picking up a puncture early on in the session. The left rear on his car blew up on the pit-straight causing a red flag as well as substantial damage to the floor. The Briton did manage some further laps late in the session, but having lost his chance of running in FP1 thanks to Ocon, he goes into this Spanish Qualifying on the back foot.

Free Practice 1 results
1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:23.951
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:24.089
3. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:24.454
4. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:24.611
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:25.416
6. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:25.585
7. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:25.672
8. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:26.078
9. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:26.186
10. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:26.243
11. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, 1:26.576
12. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:26.583
13. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:26.938
14. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:27.064
15. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:27.253
16. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:27.258
17. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 1:27.283
18. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:27.392
19. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:27.610
20. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, 1:28.84
21. Rio Haryanto, Manor, 1:29.052
22. Esteban Ocon, Renault, No time

Free Practice 2 results
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:23.922
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:24.176
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:24.641
4. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:25.017
5. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:25.131
6. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:25.194
7. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:25.342
8. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:25.375
9. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:25.437
10. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:25.453
11. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:25.708
12. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:25.893
13. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:25.899
14. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, 1:26.244
15. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:26.375
16. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:26.491
17. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:26.770
18. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, 1:26.960
19. Rio Haryanto, Manor, 1:27.252
20. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:27.812
21. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 1:28.205
22. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:28.501

Feature Image credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Release

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