Bottas fastest as Gasly impresses in Practice 2
By Mat Coch
Saturday 20th November, 2021 - 2:18am
Valtteri Bottas has continued his rich run of form by topping Free Practice 2 for the Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix.
The Finn proved fastest during the qualifying simulation phase of the session, with Pierre Gasly again showing prodigious pace for AlphaTauri in second.
Max Verstappen was only third, 0.3s away from Bottas, with Hamilton 0.1s slower in fourth.
The flood lit circuit saw a busy start as conditions more closely resembled that expected in qualifying and the race.
While the day’s earlier session had seen all three compounds in use as track action began, in Practice 2 teams restricted themselves to the hard and medium rubber.
Times were comparatively pedestrian initially, Fernando Alonso an early pacesetter with a 1:24.723s – a second slower than Verstappen’s FP1-topping time.
The Dutchman soon cam close to that lap, setting a 1:23.743s after 13 minutes, only for it to be bested by Hamilton on a 1:23.604s and then Bottas with a 1:23.324s.
Absent from the session was Nikita Mazepin, whose Haas sustained damage on the kerbing during Free Practice 1.
That prompted a tub change for the Russian driver, which could not be completed in the time available between sessions and made him a non-starter.
After 20 minutes, teams began to switch to the soft compound tyres as they began their qualifying simulation runs.
For Mercedes, that netted a 1:23.154s for Bottas and 1:23.570s for Hamilton, though the former was soon deleted for track limits at Turn 7.
Those times were set as Red Bull was occupied with the rear wing of Verstappen’s car, which had been seen flapping while DRS was opened down the front straight.
Out on his qualifying simulation, a similar behaviour was witnessed on Serio Perez’s rear wing, the Red Bull driver just eighth best after he aborted his flying lap due to traffic.
Having shown strong pace in opening practice, Gasly rose to second with his simulation, 0.2s down on Bottas’ best.
Verstappen rose to third fastest, a 1:23.498s on his first qualifying sim leaving him 0.3s shy of the leading Mercedes with a seemingly repaired rear wing.
While the Dutchman’s wing had been fixed, the team was still focused on that on Perez’s car.
He remained down the order with just the eighth fastest time, slower than both AlphaTauris and the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll.
Following the mid-session qualifying runs, attentions reverted to long run pace.
As such the order did not change, leaving Bottas fastest from Gasly and Verstappen.
Complicating any accurate reading of the session was the fact all three leading teams opted for different tyre strategies in the latter part of the session; Bottas on mediums, Gasly on hards, and Verstappen on softs.
It made establishing an accurate pecking order difficult, not helped by Ferrari seemingly being out of position and the difference seen between the two McLarens.
Lando Norris has found some pace from Free Practice 1, slotting in fifth fastest though Daniel Ricciardo languished in 14th.
Ferrari meanwhile fell from seventh and eighth to 10th and 13th, Carlos Sainz the quicker of the two.
A final 60-minute session remains ahead of qualifying, Practice 3 set to get under way at 22:00 AEDT on Saturday night.
Results: Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix, Free Practice 2
|2||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:23.357||+0.209s||27|
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||1:23.498||+0.350s||20|
|6||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:23.705||+0.557s||26|
|7||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:23.735||+0.587s||28|
|8||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||1:23.787||+0.639s||20|
|9||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1:24.020||+0.872s||27|
|15||7||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:24.631||+1.483s||26|
|17||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:25.072||+1.924s||23|