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Red Bull’s advantage grew frighteningly then diminished, Ferrari’s resurgence in Barcelona

Red Bull’s advantage grew frighteningly then diminished, Ferrari’s resurgence in Barcelona

Friday practice for the Spanish Grand Prix went smoothly and without any particular excitement, with Max Verstappen finishing on top, but after showing strength in the first free practice session, he did so with a much smaller advantage in the second practice session.

After Monaco, F1 entered the field in Barcelona, ​​and the Spanish Grand Prix weekend kicked off with the first practice day. In the first practice session, Max Verstappen, clocking a 1:14.606 early in the afternoon, was fastest at the Circuit de Catalunya, which was once again shining in its old splendor of the year as the slow chicane designed there in 2007 was removed from the last sector. To everyone’s delight, so for the first time since 2006, the Flyers were able to race through the extremely fast final and penultimate corner. How long has it been, clearly evidenced by the fact that Fernando Alonso is the only one from the current field who is still racing on the previous line.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Spanish Grand Prix
Verstappen picked up where he left off in Monaco Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

To the delight of the local crowd, the Spanish driver was the first on the track during the day, but did not shine in terms of time results. Let’s say there is no one else, because Sergio Perez, who finished second, was 768 thousandths of a second behind Verstappen’s time. While the bull cars completed their fast lap on the new soft rubber relatively early, with more than 20 minutes left in the session, presumably due to rain, several cars left themselves to the finish.

Ferrari arrived with a new side cabinet, the new version on top, the old version on the bottom:

This would also have helped Esteban Ocon finish third, but Alpine clearly moved on well, as evidenced by Pierre Gasly’s fifth place finish. The two are surprisingly separated by Nyck de Vries with Alpha Tauri.

Fernando Alonso was sixth, 9-tenths of a second behind, followed by Kevin Magnussen, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and George Russell in the top ten standings. Lewis Hamilton was 12th, 1.2 seconds behind.

Ferrari’s evolutions clearly proved to be the most interesting phenomenon of the practice session, as the Maranello stable featured modified side lockers and floorboards, among others. The innovations were only installed on Sainz’s car in the first practice session, so that they could be compared to the previous ones, but in the second free practice Charles Leclerc was also riding around with them.

The end result of the first free practice:

For the second practice staged from 5:00pm to 6:00pm, the order in first place did not change, Verstappen improved to 1:13.907 and took the lead here as well, but the advantage he saw earlier was gone, and Alonso, who completed His lap on the new soft tires later than the Dutchman, he was within a tenth of a second.

We found a surprising name on the front row again this time around, in place of de Vries, Nico Hulkenberg snuck up the ranks and brought Haas up to third, just 27 points behind Verstappen. Although Sergio Pérez got close to his teammate, it only meant fourth place for him, while Ocon now outpaced both Mercedes and Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spanish Grand Prix
Each driver also got two sets of unmarked tires which were Pirelli’s prototype hard-compounds for Silverstone Photo: Jake Grant / LAT Images

Leclerc-Sainz of Maranello was sixth and seventh respectively, but they were closer to Verstappen than second-placed Perez in the first practice. The top ten was completed by Russell, Bottas and Gasly, while Hamilton did not fit in there either and finished only eleventh.

The small time differences are great news for Saturday’s qualifying, as the top 17 drivers were one second clear of Verstappen, with Lance Stroll, who finished 18th, and Alex Albon, who finished 19th, just 1.1 seconds in arrears.

The end result of the second free practice:

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