Valtteri Bottas has ended both of Friday’s practice sessions fastest ahead of this weekend’s Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix.
The Finn proved more than a tenth quicker than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the opening session, and then headed Lewis Hamilton by half a tenth in Practice 2.
With the second session witnessing faster times, Mercedes drivers set the fastest two laps of the day courtesy of Bottas and Hamilton.
The pair were a third of a second quicker than the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Vettel at the close of play, having extended their advantage from the opening session.
The Noah’s Ark formation was interrupted by Romain Grosjean in sixth place for Haas, squeezing between the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly.
Kevin Magnussen was eighth fastest in the second Haas, showing even without the latest Ferrari engine that the American car is working well around the Barcelona circuit.
Verstappen had an interrupted day after the team found an oil leak in his Honda engine which explained his lowly 12th place result in Practice 1, and why he completed just 14 laps.
The Dutchman was back on track for Friday afternoon, though his best still almost a second slower than Bottas.
Renault’s day was equally difficult, with Daniel Ricciardo only 15th in Practice 2.
In both sessions the Australian trailed team-mate Nico Hulkenberg while the customer engine in the back of Carlos Sainz’s McLaren saw him sixth and ninth.
An off for Lance Stroll proved the only serious incident of the day, the Racing Point driver finding the wall after losing control at Turn 9.
Occurring almost as the chequered flag was due to be shown, it saw Practice 1 red flagged and not restarted.
There was a minor off for Kimi Raikkonen towards the end of Practice 2, while Stroll’s car was repaired to see the Canadian on track in the latter session.
Bottas too had a scare, with an oil leak seeing the Finn jump out of the car with 30 minutes remaining in the day’s running.
Following his performances on Friday, Bottas heads into Saturday’s qualifying as favourite for pole position, with Hamilton likely to be his biggest rival.
Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 2300 AEST, following the final 60 minute practice session which begins at 2000 AEST.
Result: Spanish Grand Prix, Practice 1
|5||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:18.943||+0.992s|
|6||55||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||1:19.155||+1.204s|
|7||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:19.180||+1.229s|
|8||10||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Honda||1:19.285||+1.334s|
|9||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso Honda||1:19.364||+1.413s|
|12||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Honda||1:19.844||+1.893s|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point Mercedes||1:19.855||+1.904s|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:20.021||+2.070s|
|15||23||Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso Honda||1:20.030||+2.079s|
|16||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||1:20.066||+2.115s|
|17||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point Mercedes||1:20.459||+2.508s|
|18||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:20.591||+2.640s|
|19||88||Robert Kubica||Williams Mercedes||1:20.889||+2.938s|
|20||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:20.990||+3.039s|
Result: Spanish Grand Prix, Practice 2
|5||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Honda||1:18.035||+0.751s|
|6||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:18.153||+0.869s|
|7||10||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Honda||1:18.238||+0.954s|
|8||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:18.355||+1.071s|
|9||55||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||1:18.658||+1.374s|
|10||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso Honda||1:18.722||+1.438s|
|11||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:18.727||+1.443s|
|12||23||Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso Honda||1:18.779||+1.495s|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point Mercedes||1:18.839||+1.555s|
|16||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||1:19.041||+1.757s|
|17||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:19.427||+2.143s|
|18||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point Mercedes||1:19.448||+2.164s|
|19||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:20.191||+2.907s|
|20||88||Robert Kubica||Williams Mercedes||1:20.781||+3.497s|