Formula 1

Spanish GP – Friday Round-Up: Mercedes set the pace as Ferrari make progress

5 Mins read
Bottas - Spanish GP 2020
Credit: Steve Etherington

It’s Friday and Formula 1 is back for the sixth race weekend of the 2020 season, this time pitching it’s tents in sunny Spain. Ten teams and twenty-one drivers have been negotiating the familiar Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya today, with mixed fortunes shared between them.

This isn’t the first visit to Spain in 2020. The circuit played host to the all-important Pre-Season Testing in February, and so the drivers are more than familiar with it’s sixteen turns and two DRS zones. Catalunya has been the scene of many historical moments in the past, such as the first Ferrari win for Michael Schumacher in 1996 and twenty years later the first win for Max Verstappen in 2016- Can the latter of the two recreate such success this Sunday?

Tyre choices have been a hot-topic in the past few races, and that’s no different this time out. Teams will be utilising Pirelli’s C1, C2, and C3 compounds this week, but the scorching Spanish sun is expected to cause lots of drama in Sunday’s Race. Last Weekend in Silverstone, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team struggled severely with tyre blistering- allowing Max Verstappen and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing to creep in and capitalise after a bold hard compound start. Facing the same temperatures this week, Mercedes will surely be questioning whether or not they will suffer the same fate once again.

Valtteri Bottas topped the timesheets in Free Practice One, going just 0.039s quicker than team-mate Lewis Hamilton whilst Max Verstappen finished in third- nine tenths down. In Free Practice two, Bottas took a trip over the gravel and couldn’t quite edge out Hamilton, finishing second to him with Verstappen in third yet again.

Israeli driver Roy Nissany takes to the track in first practice session

Fifteen years after his father Chanoch drove in the first practice session of the 2005 Hungarian Grand Prix, Roy Nissany subbed-in for George Russell in Free Practice One to become one of the only Israeli drivers to ever drive a Formula One car. The Formula 2 rookie had a decent first practice session, finishing just three tenths off team-mate Nicholas Latifi, however he did have a bit of a moment at turn ten- locking the rear tyres and spinning onto the escape-road.

Nissany in the cockpit before first practice- Credit: Williams Racing

Latifi himself had a relatively quiet first session, finishing nineteenth after completing thirty laps, although he did mention some issues with heat radiating from the underside of his seat. He went on to beat George Russell by two tenths in the next session after the Brit grappled with his challenging FW43, citing that it felt like ‘driving on ice’. Russell ended his only practice session of the day in last, setting a laptime of a 1:19.391

Vettel begins to close the gap to Leclerc after chassis replacement

Having endured a disastrous start to the 2020 season, Sebastian Vettel’s fortunes look to finally be on the up after wrestling with his SF1000 in previous races. The German has been allocated a new chassis for this weekend in the hopes that it would help improve his pace compared to team-mate Charles Leclerc, and so far it seems to be working. In the first practice session of the day, Vettel was just hundredths down on Leclerc- signifying stronger speed and a new burst of motivation for the four-time World Champion.

In Free Practice Two, Vettel finished twelfth after focusing on long-run pace.

Vettel improving significantly after poor start to 2020 – Credit: Ferrari Media

McLaren pair struggle with Friday pace as Sainz warned by FIA

The two papaya cars of McLaren F1 Team have been somewhat struggling today after a difficult first practice session festering below tenth place, with home hero Carlos Sainz-aided by a new chassis- finishing eleventh and Lando Norris behind him in thirteenth.

During Free Practice Two, Sainz was warned by the FIA after taking to the old track escape-road in the final chicane in order to avoid slow cars. The Spaniard adhered, and went on to finish seventh with Norris in fourteenth.

Mixed fortunes for Grosjean

Grosjean battling the tricky circuit – Credit: Haas F1 Team

In his lacklustre VF-20, Romain Grosjean performed sensationally today; the Frenchman set laptimes good enough for fifth in both sessions and beat his team-mate on each occasion. Unfortunately for him, though, his Ferrari engine experienced a loss of power with just eight minutes of Free Practice Two remaining and he was forced to return to the garage.

The other Haas F1 Team car of Kevin Magnussen didn’t have a wonderful session comparatively, but completed a decent amount of running nonetheless. The Dane finished ninth in the first session and throughout the day he reported that the tyres felt ‘consistent’. All in all a reasonable day for the American outfit.

Pérez returns to the track from quarantine after contracting COVID-19

Following a two-Grands-Prix-long absence from Formula One, Sergio Pérez is back at BWT Racing Point F1 Team and hungrier than ever to bring home a good points haul this time out in Spain. The Mexican was substituted for Nico Hülkenberg in Silverstone after testing positive for the coronavirus but is now eager to return to racing amidst a difficult period for his team in the wake of a ‘copying’ scandal.

Pérez finished eighth in practice one and ninth in practice two, thus beating his team-mate on both instances.

Pérez coming home to his cockpit after a two-week break – Credit: BWT Racing Point F1 Team

It’s no secret the Mexican’s replacment-Nico Hülkenberg- will be yearning for a seat on the 2021 grid after leaving the sport last year, and the German will no doubt hope his stand-in performance markets him as a talented veteran to the teams with free seats. If he is to nab a drive next year, universal opinion is that it would be with either Haas or Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN. Although, many gifted youngsters have their eyes on said seats, so it’s all to play for.

Pos#DriverNat.TeamTimeGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasFINMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:16.78533
244Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:16.824+0.039s29
333Max VerstappenNEDAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:17.724+0.939s26
416Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1:17.970+1.185s27
55Sebastian VettelGERScuderia Ferrari1:17.981+1.196s27
68Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas F1 Team1:18.291+1.506s29
711Sergio PérezMEXBWT Racing Point Formula One Team1:18.471+1.686s31
823Alexander AlbonTHAAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:18.606+1.821s27
920Kevin MagnussenDENHaas F1 Team1:18.620+1.835s28
1018Lance StrollCANBWT Racing Point Formula One Team1:18.643+1.858s31
1155Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPMcLaren F1 Team1:18.733+1.948s33
1231Esteban OconFRARenault DP World F1 Team1:18.736+1.951s31
134Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1:18.744+1.959s32
1410Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:18.888+2.103s26
1599Antonio GiovinazziITAAlfa Romeo Racing1:18.917+2.132s24
167Kimi RäikkönenFINAlfa Romeo Racing1:18.981+2.196s24
1726Daniil KvyatRUSScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:19.145+2.360s21
183Daniel RicciardoAUSRenault DP World F1 Team1:19.230+2.445s31
196Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing1:20.334+3.549s30
2040Roy NissanyISRWilliams Racing1:20.664+3.879s25

Free Practice Two Timings:

Pos#DriverNat.TeamTimeGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:16.88337
277Valtteri BottasFINMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:17.170+0.287s38
333Max VerstappenNEDAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:17.704+0.821s33
43Daniel RicciardoAUSRenault DP World F1 Team1:17.868+0.985s34
58Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas F1 Team1:18.133+1.250s29
616Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1:18.147+1.264s35
755Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPMcLaren F1 Team1:18.214+1.331s33
811Sergio PérezMEXBWT Racing Point Formula One Team1:18.293+1.410s39
931Esteban OconFRARenault DP World F1 Team1:18.303+1.420s40
1010Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:18.312+1.429s40
1118Lance StrollCANBWT Racing Point Formula One Team1:18.357+1.474s39
125Sebastian VettelGERScuderia Ferrari1:18.404+1.521s36
1323Alexander AlbonTHAAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:18.491+1.608s35
144Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1:18.5061.623s38
1526Daniil KvyatRUSScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:18.642+1.759s39
1620Kevin MagnussenDENHaas F1 Team1:18.761+1.878s36
177Kimi RäikkönenFINAlfa Romeo Racing1:18.900+2.017s42
1899Antonio GiovinazziITAAlfa Romeo Racing1:18.964+2.081s40
196Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing1:19.155+2.272s32
2063George RussellGBRWilliams Racing1:19.391+2.508s38

Free practice Three begins at 11:00 BST tomorrow, so don’t be sure to watch and join us at The Checkered Flag for all the latest news and drama from the pinnacle of Motorsport.

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