Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport‘s Valtteri Bottas topped the timing sheet in Free Practice ahead of his team mate Lewis Hamilton by just three milliseconds.
The Finn set a time of 1:08.846 on Pirelli‘s Super Soft, and fastest, tyre and also found himself fastest in the speed trap clocking 207.7mph as he topped a practice session for the first time since the 2017 Italian Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s Friday morning set up struggles continued but his team were adamant that his long-run pace was still strong.
Sebastian Vettel was having his own issues, the German complained throughout the session that something was rattling inside his pedal box, having to pit twice to have it checked by his team.
Scuderria Ferrari‘s race pace was looking the strongest of the front-runners.
Vettel’s stint on the yellow-walled Soft tyre was the stand-out stint but his rear right suffered heavily with blistering towards the end of the run, before later in the session his red-walled Super Soft returned to the garage looking even worse than their predecessors.
The two Aston Martin Red Bull Racing cars, were predictably fast throughout Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace‘s twisty second sector but were down nearly half a second elsewhere on the circuit.
Max Verstappen, fastest in Free Practice 1, missed the first half of this session when his team were forced to take his car apart after they discovered a oil leak. The Dutchman was fifth fastest ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
A heavy crash early on for Nico Hulkenberg brought a halt to the session after the Renault Sport F1 driver collided with the barrier at Turn 13.
The medical car was deployed but the German, eight years on from the weekend he clinched his first and only pole position in Formula 1, walked away from the incident without injury but could face a gearbox penalty after his number 27 car went backwards into the barriers.
Carlos Sainz Jr. and Romain Grosjean were just two of a list of drivers who came close to making contact during the session as they duelled for track position.
Alfa Romeo Sauber‘s Charles Leclerc impressed as he split the two Haas cars to finish eighth fastest and nearly a faster than his team mate Marcus Ericsson.
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