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Spanish GP FP2: Hamilton fastest, Verstappen struggles

Spanish GP FP2: Hamilton fastest, Verstappen struggles

Spanish GP FP2: Hamilton fastest, Verstappen struggles

Lewis Hamilton finished the second practice session for the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix fastest of all, as Max Verstappen seemed to struggle.

The seven-time Formula 1 Champion seemed to be in a good place in the afternoon running around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and ended FP2 fastest of all.

The session showed that tyre degradation was excessive and will be a factor come Sunday in the race, on a weekend that promises to reveal the actual pecking order of the grid after Red Bull’s recent struggles as well as McLaren’s, Ferrari’s, and Mercedes’ progress.

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But Verstappen did not seem to be enjoying his RB20 on Friday afternoon, as he was struggling with balance and trying to make his car turn into the corners. He indeed finished the session fifth fastest.

Carlos Sainz continued to be the fastest of the Ferrari drivers as Charles Leclerc continued to struggle with his car. The Spaniard was second fastest behind Hamilton.

McLaren also seemed to have dropped with Lando Norris only managing third while Pierre Gasly was the surprise of the session dragging his Alpine to fourth fastest.

Sergio Perez struggled with car issues as well and was out of the top ten while Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin had a low key session also finishing out of the top ten in 14th.

Buildup towards FP2

The first practice session for the 2024 Spanish GP did not reveal the full picture for the pecking order this weekend, with only Red Bull and McLaren showing that they are on the pace, no surprise there.

However Ferrari with a heavily upgraded SF-24 did not show their hand, restricting their running to Medium and Hard tyres and avoiding qualifying runs. The same applies to Mercedes.

Moreover, FP2 will be the session that counts the most, as team will have to do qualifying simulations so the pecking order will emerge. Furthermore, the temperature and track conditions in the Friday afternoon session will be the closest to those in qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

With various teams bringing upgrades, expect FP2 to reveal more about the cars, who’s hot and who’s not, keeping in mind that several had some niggles with their cars

Nico Hulkenberg will be back in the car for FP2 after handing over his car to Oliver Bearman in the AM and will have some catching up to do.

FP2 Session Highlights

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The clear and dry conditions continued to FP2 albeit a bit cooler with track temperatures being 43 degrees Celsius while ambient temperatures were 25 degrees.

As was the case in FP1, the drivers did not waste any time getting out on track and starting to put in the laps around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Most of the drivers opted for the Medium tyre to start their session, only Williams, a McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, and Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu going for the Hards.

Soon Logan Sargeant was the first to have an incident and went wide in Turn 2, but managed to stay on track and kept going.

Ten minutes into the session, Verstappen’s engineer asked for feedback about the car’s balance. The response was not positive, he said: “The car is loose in the exits in general. Still just weird understeer mid corner, this car doesn’t bite.”

The Dutchman was fourth fastest at that moment, over three tenths of the pace – 13 minutes into the session.

After 20 minutes of running, the track went silent as the cars returned to their garages for some setup changes in preparation for the second runs, on Softs.

Sargeant was the first driver to get out on Softs as Piastri who followed was called back to the garage as soon as he went out, his engineer reporting a data issue.

At the moment the order was: George Russell – Norris – Hamilton – Verstappen – Sainz – Leclerc – Esteban Ocon – Piastri – Gasly – Valtteri Bottas.

Zhou complained about Yuki Tsunoda “fully blocking” him along with some colorful language.

With 25 minutes elapsed, the times on the Soft tyres began to appear with Sainz initially going fastest, ahead of Norris and Leclerc in third.

Verstappen soon drops Leclerc to fourth and takes his position in third, despite posting a first purple sector, but lost over three tenths in sector two but making up some time in the third.

Soon Hamilton went fastest of all as Russell first attempt on Softs was only good for seventh but then drops one position as Gasly crashes the party going fourth fastest, as the top ten drivers after the first qualifying runs were covered by less than seven tenths.

Here’s the order: Hamilton – Sainz – Norris – Gasly – Verstappen – Leclerc – Piastri – Russell – Ocon – Bottas.

Perez did not manage a run on Softs when everyone else was doing them, as he had an issue with his car, and went for a quali run later on. He manages only 12th on his first run.

Soon long runs on heavy fuel loads began with drivers using the same used Soft tyres they earlier used for qualifying runs.

With less than 20 minutes remaining, the Medium tyres were bolted again on the cars with race simulations underway.

Leclerc was the only driver not on track as Ferrari were doing a suspension change on his SF-24, and only rejoined with less than ten minutes remaining.

Hamilton, with seven minutes remaining, had a moment, running wide at Turn 13, driving into the gravel, but  kept going.

Norris also had a moment on the kerbs and reported: “I hit the floor pretty hard.” That was at Turn 9.

No further quali runs were made after the long runs, and the order did not change, as drivers did some practice starts in the end, as usual.

How they finished

Hamilton clocked a 1:13.264 to go fastest of all, 0.022s ahead of Sainz who was second fastest, with Norris 0.033s further down the road in third.

Gasly was an impressive fourth with a 1:13.443, and 0.061s ahead of Verstappen who was fifth fastest in the understeering Red Bull RB20.

Leclerc’s 1:13.597 was good enough for sixth and was 0.005s ahead of Piastri, who was seventh in the McLaren an up until now, unable to match his teammate’s speed.

Russell was eighth fastest in the other Mercedes, 0.458s off the pace of his teammate and 0.044s ahead of Ocon in ninth as Bottas rounded up the top ten.

Spanish GP FP2 Classification

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