Spanish Grand Prix - Libre 2: Leclerc has a small margin on Verstappen, but both are worried for the future

Spanish Grand Prix – Libre 2: Leclerc has a small margin on Verstappen, but both are worried for the future

It’s an air of déjà vu and that’s why you have to be careful. The Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton concluded free practice 2 of the Spanish Grand Prix very close to the fastest lap signed by Charles Leclerc, on the Montmelo circuit, on Friday afternoon.

During a new hour of work aimed at testing their W13s on the time lap for Saturday’s qualifying session and in a race relay simulation for Sunday, the British from the German team competed as rarely with the Ferrari F1 75. Facing the 1’19″670 established by the Monegasque leader of the world championship in “soft” rubber, the young Englishman completed his best lap just 0″117 from the “rossa” n°16, and his compatriot eight times world champion, at 0 “204.

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The conditions were special. The mercury was 35°C in the air and 50°C on contact with the track, and that may have been enough to eliminate the rebounds that Brackley’s machine had been plagued with since the very first winter tests on this same track. , last February. It should still be very hot this weekend in Catalonia, and Sunday is announced as the hottest day of the week. A chance for Mercedes? In Miami, two weeks ago, we remember that hope had been high among the Grays following George Russell’s best time in free practice 2. And that everything had suddenly come down to earth the following days. Toto Wolff, the team’s crew chief, said the low downforce Florida circuit had boosted the performance of the “Silver Arrows.”

“Alpine has been a series of missed opportunities since the start of the season”

Alonso in ambush

However, the W13 drove this Friday north of Barcelona with a revised aerodynamic kit, including a new flat bottom, a part that plays an essential role in ground effect and “porpoising”, a rebound phenomenon caused by a split. , at the level of the diffuser, of the layer of air circulating between the ground and the floor.

Nevertheless, the hope is perhaps more real than in the United States, because the W13 has also shown a gain in competitiveness on “medium” yellow tires. Before the use of the red-flanked Pirellis in the final 20 minutes, Lewis Hamilton was fourth, 0.551 behind world champion Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.

Charles Leclerc posted in the lead as in free practice 1 with his Ferrari more comfortable than the Red Bull in fast corners – the Austrian team agrees on this diagnosis, so Mercedes have burnt the courtesy of Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), in the hot seat after a series of errors since the start of the season, and Max Verstappen, who may not have pushed his car as much as usual. The Spaniard and the Mexican finished fourth and fifth, at 0″320 and 0″336.

Fernando Alonso (Alpine) still excellent sixth, at 0″553, and one wonders how he is doing, Sergio Pérez (Red Bull), seventh, has suffered 0″962, too much behind to dwell on it.

Unperturbed by the controversy around the resemblance of the sidepods of his Aston Martin to those of the Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel managed a good eighth time, while Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and Mick Schumacher (Haas) showed that they were the other two contenders for Q3 on Saturday. But Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), eleventh, did not say his last word, just like Kevin Magnussen (Haas), twelfth.

On the other hand, Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) and Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) are lacking too much for the moment to claim to be there. The Canadian, the Japanese and the Australian finished thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth more than 0.2 behind the group ahead of them. Just ahead of the Alfa Romeos who certainly did not chase the clock as much as their rivals.

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