Ferrari may have enjoyed a comfortable advantage in Friday’s opening practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix, but Mercedes is strill very much in the hunt.
Australian Grand Prix winner and current championship leader Valtteri Bottas claimed top spot on the time sheets at the end of the afternoon session, shading FP1 pace-setter Sebastian Vettel by a mere 0.027 seconds.
This was despite a spin for the Finn and his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, with the latter in particular bemoaning the unpredictable handling of his car. Hamilton finished the session fourth-fastest and a perhaps unrepresentative 0.7 seconds slower than Bottas.
It was a similar story for the sister Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, who ended his session just seventh-fastest. The Monégasque driver also had his session cut short, with Ferrari mechanics opting to keep his car in the garage while precautionary cooling systems checks were carried out on his SF90.
Another driver who had his session comprimised was Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, whose STR14 underwent a precautionary engine change between FP1 and FP2. The Russian’s departure from the pits was delayed while the final installation was being completed, and he eventually managed a total of 20 laps in the session.
After suffering a front wing failure during practice in Bahrain, Romain Grosjean’s Haas suffered another similar failure in FP2 in Shanghai as the Frenchman rode the bumps going into Turn 1.
A wobble on his fastest flying lap cost Max Verstappen a few vital tenths of a second, but it still proved good enough for the Dutch youngster to claim third-fastest overall in his Red Bull Racing Honda. Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly once again couldn’t match his pace, finishing almost a second slower and tenth on the timing screens.
The chasing midfield enjoyed strong gains in pace from FP1 to FP2, with Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg and the McLaren duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris all lapping inside the top ten and within a second of Bottas’ ultimate pace. Hülkenberg’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo ended his Friday positively and finished the day tenth-fastest.
|FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN CHINESE GRAND PRIX 2019 – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 2|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:33.330||37|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:33.357||+ 0.027||33|
|3.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:33.551||+ 0.221||29|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:34.037||+ 0.707||32|
|5.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:34.096||+ 0.766||31|
|6.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:34.141||+ 0.811||36|
|7.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:34.158||+ 0.828||13|
|8.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:34.296||+ 0.966||38|
|9.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:34.336||+ 1.006||32|
|10.||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:34.455||+ 1.125||32|
|11.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:34.551||+ 1.221||33|
|12.||Alexander Albon||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:34.634||+ 1.304||37|
|13.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:34.694||+ 1.364||20|
|14.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:34.779||+ 1.449||37|
|15.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:34.784||+ 1.454||35|
|16.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:34.788||+ 1.458||34|
|17.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:35.704||+ 2.374||32|
|18.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:35.914||+ 2.584||40|
|19.||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:36.121||+ 2.791||38|
|20.||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:36.229||+ 2.899||35|
Image via Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team