Lewis Hamilton was the quickest man in both practice sessions for this weekends Spanish Grand Prix, allowing Mercedes to be quickest on Friday for the first time since Melbourne.
The team were showing off the new bits on their car which features a new, slimmer front wing, more elements to their barge boards, and other improvements aimed at saving weight. Hamilton was trailed by team mate Valtteri Bottas, with the recent Grand Prix winner getting within nine hundredths of a second after both the morning and the afternoon session.
They were closely followed by the two Ferrari’s, which were nearly a second off the pace on the Medium tyre runs. They also brought updates to their car, most notably a more McLaren-style T-Wing at the rear.
Kimi Raikkonen finished ahead of Sebastian Vettel, both after they ran timed laps on the Hard tyre and the Medium – despite running wide and over the newly placed kerbs at Turn 13. Vettel also ran into a problem with his rear wheel rim, which caused him to stop out on track just at the pit exit before he was wheeled in a the team changed it.
Later on in the afternoon Vettel set the pace on the Soft tyre initially before being beaten by Raikkonen, who was able to go a tenth quicker on the Soft tyre although they were still three tenths off the ultimate pace set by the Mercedes drivers.
Max Verstappen was best of the rest for Red Bull, leading Daniel Ricciardo by going fifth and sixth quickest respectively in both sessions. Verstappen was lucky to continue the rest of the day after a massive moment caused by a headwind going into Turn 9, which speared him off the track and across the gravel.
Red Bull were tipped as being the team that would bring the most aerodynamic updates, but it looks like they are still hampered by the horsepower from their Renault engine. Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer ended the day seventh and eighth quickest, which is encouraging but still nearly a second off the pace.
Both Haas drivers were able to finish ahead of Renault in the morning session, although Kevin Magnussen stopped with a gearbox-related issue at Turn 5 with just a handful of minutes until the chequered flag. In the afternoon the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz and Williams of Felipe Mass beat Grosjean to the final top ten positions, while Magnussen went 15th quickest in what looks like it could be a close battle to get through to Q3 tomorrow.
Also stopping out on track with issues was Fernando Alonso, this time a catastrophic engine failure having completed three corners in the morning session meant he didn’t take any further part. After going back to his hotel for a quick tennis match, Alonso was able to get back out to complete 20 laps and finish the day slowest of all – a world away it seems from the pace he had at Indianapolis last week.