Spanish GP - Mercedes On Top Again in Friday Practice

Kristopher Nichols
May 12, 2018

Ricciardo was third-fastest initially, more than a second behind Bottas's early 1m18.695s benchmark, but he then triggered a virtual safety auto when he went off.

Mercedes's Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas celebrates on the podium after winning the Formula One Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom circuit in Sochi on 30 April 2017.

In an incident-packed first practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas dominated the timesheets as Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull end up in the barriers at Turn 4.

The big disappointments of Friday were Renault as Nico Hulkenberg was only 13th fastest and the second Spaniard on the grid, Carlos Sainz, in 17th.

Australian Ricciardo's auto had some eye-catching aerodynamic upgrades for the start of the European season and ended 0.133 seconds slower after crashing in the morning, while Verstappen was third.

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes maintained their preference for the harder compound tires.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel failed to match the speed of the Silver Arrows and ended up behind the Red Bulls in second practice.

In the morning, the story was all about the teams testing the new upgrades for their cars whether it be the controversial Halo-mounted mirrors on the Ferrari or the new nose design at McLaren.

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Robert Kubica drove well in FP1, but Williams continue to struggle in 2018.

And the Pole would finish 1.2 seconds ahead of Lance Stroll who was the second driver to come to a halt in a gravel trap in that opening 90 minutes of running.

Hamilton, who benefitted from Bottas' misfortune to win a week ago, was nearly a second slower than his fellow Mercedes man. However, Bottas fell from first to fifth.

Vettel finished fourth 0.3 seconds slower than the fastest auto, while Raikkonen suffered an engine issue and ended sixth.

As the wind whipped around the track, he coped with the elements better than anyone else, with his time of 1:18.148 comfortably the quickest of the session. He was on course to improve on the supersofts but overcooked it on Turn Seven and joined the long list of drivers who visited the gravel on Friday.

Hamilton, Bottas, and Verstappen showed a commanding pace with heavy loads of fuel on their cars, whilst Vettel marked the faster laps under those conditions.

Team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne was ninth quickest in second practice and positive about the improved handling of the vehicle, but said McLaren had to wait until qualifying to know if it had taken a real step forward.

Frenchman Romain Grosjean was seventh ahead of his Haas team-mate Dane Kevin Magnussen, Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne of McLaren and Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India. Hamilton and Bottas are the early favorites since the tread change on the Pirelli seems to be a good fit for the German squad, but a lot remains to be seen.

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