Lewis Hamilton has admitted that his fastest lap during Free Practice 2 for the Portuguese Grand Prix “wasn’t perfect”, adding that he will need to make improvements before qualifying.
Hamilton topped the session from his key title rival Max Verstappen, who ended the Friday afternoon running 0.143 seconds adrift of the seven-time world champion.
Speaking after the completion of FP2, Hamilton said that the margins between Mercedes and Red Bull looked “close” and predicted an “exciting qualifying and race” to come.
“It’s a little grippier here this year but it was very windy today so I think everybody was struggling with balance and sliding around,” he said. “Not a massive amount of track evolution between the sessions – as it got hotter, the track got slower.
“This morning seemed to be a little bit better, then this afternoon it got warmer and windier so it seemed to make it harder for people to find time and work on their balance.
“I think it’ll be a close one this weekend. I don’t know what Max’s lap was like in FP2 but mine wasn’t perfect so we definitely have some time to come from the car and improvements to make. But I’m sure Red Bull have too. It was close, as it has been the last couple of races, so I’m sure it’ll be an exciting qualifying and race in store.”
Fellow Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was quickest in FP1, setting the best time of the weekend so far, before finishing FP2 as third fastest.
“In terms of pace, it was not a bad start – I think we are there or thereabouts,” he said.
“It’s going to be close, no doubt. Quite similar feelings to last year here, it’s a slippery tarmac and the rear of the car is pretty loose in places, so it’s not easy to get clean laps. For me, the softer we went with the compounds, the more tricky the car became, and the Medium tyre looks to be working best.
“The track has improved from last year, slightly more grip and definitely a step in the right direction. Tomorrow it is going to be important to get the heat in the tyres in the right way – it’s going to make a big difference. It will be close between us and Red Bull and could swing either way. Whoever finds more lap time overnight gets pole.”