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Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix 2024

Hamilton pushes Mercedes into Spanish fight but Verstappen looks threatening

Mercedes appear to have suggested their Canadian GP performance was not a one-off.

Hamilton Spain
To news overview © XPBimages

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes dropped a broad hint they are firmly in the mix for Spanish Grand Prix honours this weekend after the seven-time F1 champion posted the fastest time in Friday practice.

Following a steam of updates delivered on the car at each race from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix onwards, Mercedes thrust themselves back towards the front of the grid in Canada where George Russell scored pole position.

Russell was in the running for the victory but made mistakes on Sunday that led to him finishing third ahead of Hamilton, and behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Lando Norris in his McLaren.

The burning question from that weekend was whether the performance was a one-off at an outlier of a track in the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

The early evidence if Friday is anything to go by is that appears to be not the case as Hamilton hooked up his W15 to post a time of 1:13.264s after the soft-tyre runs, closely followed by Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and Norris, with the duo both within six-hundredths of a second of the 39-year-old.

For Ferrari, there will have been pleasure at seeing Sainz so close to the front given the SF-24 is sporting a raft of upgrades this weekend, and after Charles Leclerc had described it as "horrible" during FP1.

The Monégasque finished the session sixth fastest, a third-of-a-second adrift of Hamilton. Ahead of him were the surprise package of Pierre Gasly in his Alpine and Verstappen, with his RB20 looking ominous in sporting track-specific cooling upgrades, although his day was not without its grumbles as he complained about the car's handling.

Result Free practice 2 - Spanish

# Driver Team Time Tyre
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With the circuit having baked underneath the Spanish sun all day, sending the track temperature rising to 44 degrees Celsius, it was only a matter of minutes before Norris' leading time from FP1 of 1:14.228s was bettered, and it was the Briton who lowered the mark by 0.031s on the medium compound.

Minutes later, compatriot Russell had shaved off just over a tenth of a second to sit just outside 74 seconds for a lap, leading a British 1-2-3 at that stage as Hamilton was third quickest, 0.205s adrift.

On his third run on the same set of mediums, Russell purpled the first sector, only to fall away in the middle, leading to him backing out and resting on the laurels of his initial lap.

Just under 20 minutes into the session, Williams' Logan Sargeant, sitting at the bottom of the timesheet, 2.7s off the pace, was the first driver to venture out on the soft rubber, elevating himself up to seventh after his opening outing, but still a second behind Russell. By the end, he was back at the foot again, 1.8s down.

Of the leading contenders for this weekend, Sainz was the first to show his hand, posting a 1:13.286s. Norris' first run left him 0.033s shy of his former team-mate, with Leclerc over three-tenths back on the Spaniard.

When Verstappen hit the track on the red-striped Pirellis, his impact was almost immediate as he purpled the first and third sectors, but the middle was a disappointment as he only managed a 1:13.504s.

Instead, it was Hamilton who took over top spot, beating Sainz by 0.022s, arguably aided by a slight tow from Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso towards the end of the lap but it was enough to leave him on top.

It was not until the session was over 36 minutes old that Sergio Perez finally made his way out of the garage for his soft-tyre run due to his team working on his car for an unspecified reason. His lap, though, was eight-tenths slower than Hamilton, leaving him in 13th.

Behind sixth-placed Leclerc, McLaren's Oscar Piastri, Russell, Esteban Ocon in his Alpine, and another surprise in Valtteri Bottas in his Stake completed the top 10, the latter almost seven-tenths back.

The top 16 were covered by a second, with RB's Daniel Ricciardo occupying that slot just behind team-mate Yuki Tsunoda. Despite possessing a considerable upgrade of their own on the cars, the performance so far will undoubtedly have fallen shy of what was arguably expected.

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