Rosberg returns Mercedes to the top in FP2


Nico Rosberg topped the times in the second practice session of the weekend, to give the momentum back to Mercedes AMG PETRONAS, as the two Silver Arrows sandwiched the Scuderia Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, ahead of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.

The German set a superb time of 1m23.922s to top the times on the soft Pirelli tyre compound, which the Brackley-based squad used for the first time this weekend, midway through the FP2 session. Rosberg was just two tenths quicker than Raikkonen on the comparable rubber, which is the compound the Maranello-based squad appear to favour on the SF16-H.

The Finn, who was informed by his pit crew that he had a fuel system problem and should return to the pits midway through the session, was five-tenths of a second up on the second Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in third, who also spent time in the pits whilst both front pushrods of his W07 were changed. Towards the end of the session both Hamilton and Raikkonen switched to the medium compound tyre whilst they completed long run simulations so did not improve on their times. Sebastian Vettel was a further three tenths down the order in fourth place, his Ferrari not looking fantastically stable as he circulated the track.

Carlos Sainz put in an exceptional performance to finish the session in fifth, just two tenths down on the Ferrari, but more importantly ahead of both Red Bull Racing drivers, the big sister team of Scuderia Toro Rosso. Daniel Ricciardo was sixth, just two tenths clear of Fernando Alonso who had also put in an impressive performance in the McLaren to finish seventh.

It was an encouraging session for the Spaniard, who had briefly topped the times at one point on the medium tyre, before Hamilton rocked up and brushed the MP4-31 aside. The times being posted by Alonso were competitive compared to those around him however, who were posting times on the softer rubber. When he did eventually bolt on the softest compound, the Spaniard went sixth fastest initially. But it was not a session without incident for the double world champion, who had received a new plank to the underneath of the MP4-31 for FP2. However, the Spaniard damaged it when running wide onto the Astroturf and had to return to the garage to have it replaced before returning to the track.

Max Verstappen, had a relatively quiet but useful session in the RB12, racking up some much needed laps and getting himself acquainted with his new car. The Dutchman finished in eighth, just two tenths down on his team-mate, which can only be a positive for the youngster.

The two Sahara Force India‘s of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten, an acceptable session for the Silverstone based squad, having brought a large upgrade package with them to Spain. Having sat more than half of this morning’s FP1 session out with an oil leak, Perez made up for lost time in FP2, after briefly bringing out a yellow flag early doors, when the Mexican ran very wide at Turn 9.

The lead Williams Martini Racing driver was that of Valtteri Bottas in eleventh. As always it was a slow and steady Friday for the Oxfordshire based squad, with Felipe Massa, who again seemed to struggle with grip in the FW38, way down the order in sixteenth place, nearly a second down on his team-mate. The Brazilian had a big moment during the session, at the high speed Turn 9, when he lost the rear and ran wide as the car snapped sideways on him.

It was another disrupted session for Jenson Button, who had to roll the MP4-31 back to the garage at a snail’s pace, as he lost power to the engine, but was luckily coming down the pit lane at the time. After spending the majority of FP1 in the pits due to technical issues, it will not have been the sort of preparation the 2009 world champion wanted ahead of Sunday’s race.The Brit did mange to get back out towards the latter stages of the FP2 session however, and put himself into twelfth place.

Romain Grosjean was again seriously unhappy with the lack of driveability in the VF16. The Frenchman has been struggling big time for grip for the last few races, and is not shy at making his feelings known over team radio, with numerous blasts across the airwaves made to his engineer. The Haas F1 man finished in thirteenth place, just ahead of the first Renault Sport F1 car of Kevin Magnussen, who was just one tenth faster than Daniil Kvyat, who finished the session down in fourteenth. The good news for the Russian is that team-mate Sainz has shown there is definite potential in the Toro Rosso, having been 1.2 seconds faster than the former Red Bull driver in that session. The Faenza-based team also racked up the most laps during FP2, with consistent times being recorded.

It was another disastrous session for Renault Sport F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, who sustained a puncture in his left rear tyre going down the back straight and had to retire the RS16 at Turn 1. That brought out the virtual safety car before the red flag was shown due to the amount of debris that had been flung across the start/finish straight.

After sitting out FP1 to allow Esteban Ocon a drive, who incidentally also suffered a puncture during that session, the Brit now has it all to do with barely any preparation time prior to the race. Renault did manage to get Palmer back out on track with just under twenty minutes remaining, but it has not been the ideal start to the weekend for the Brit, who finished the session down in seventeenth place.

Manor Racing drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto were seventeenth and eighteenth place respectively, finishing ahead of both the Sauber F1 team cars of Felipe Nasr, who was twentieth and Marcus Ericsson who finished dead last in twenty-second place.

Esteban Gutierrez finished in twenty-first place for the Haas F1 team, after the Mexican spent most of the FP2 session in the pits with an electronics issue, whilst the Mexican was able to get back out onto track with ten minutes remaining it was not really enough time for him to make much headway.

Heading into Saturday, there are a few interesting prospects on the cards. Can Ferrari get one over on their Mercedes rivals and take pole? Will Verstappen, who has only been two tenths down on his team-mate during the Friday sessions, beat Daniel Ricciardo? And can Fernando Alonso or Carlos Sainz bring joy to the hearts of the Spanish fans?

Circuit de Catalunya Free Practice 2 Result

       
1
POSNO.DRIVERNATTEAMTIME
2
16Nico Rosberg GERMercedes1:23.922
3
27Kimi Räikkönen FINFerrari1:24.176
4
344Lewis Hamilton ENGMercedes1:24.641
5
45Sebastian VettelGERFerrari1:25.017
6
555Carlos Sainz SPAToro Rosso1:25.131
7
63Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull Racing1:25.194
8
714Fernando AlonsoSPAMcLaren1:25.194
9
833Max Verstappen NEDRed Bull Racing1:25.375
10
911Sergio PerezMEXToro Rosso1:25.437
11
1027Nico Hulkenberg GERForce India1:25.453
12
1177Valtteri BottasFINWilliams1:25.708
13
1222Jenson ButtonENGMcLaren1:25.893
14
138Romain Grosjean FRAHaas1:25.899
15
1420Kevin MagnussenDENRenault1:26.244
16
1526Daniil KvyatRUSToro Rosso1:26.375
17
1619Felipe MassaBRAWilliams1:26.491
18
1730Jolyon PalmerENGRenault1:26.770
19
1894Pascal Wehrlein GERManor1:26.960
20
1988Rio HaryantoINDManor1:27.252
21
2012Felipe NasrBRASauber1:27.812
22
2121Esteban Gutierrez MEXHaas1:28.205
23
229Marcus Ericsson SWESauber1:28.501