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Mixed fortunes for Mercedes in FP2

NEWS STORY
22/06/2018

Ahead of today's second session the air temperature is 30 degrees C, while the track temperature is 52 degrees. It remains bright and sunny.

Following numerous near misses, it fell to poor old Marcus Ericsson to finally hit the barriers earlier.

Following his heavy impact at T11, there was concern when there appeared to be no movement from the driver as flames began to appear from the back of his badly damaged Sauber.

However, a call from his crew over the radio did the trick, the Swede subsequently revealing that after losing his mirrors in the initial crash he was wan not aware of the fire.

Unfortunately, though Ericsson is fighting fit for FP2, the same cannot be said of his car and as a result he will sit out this afternoon's session.

The change of wind direction in T6, where drivers found themselves suddenly moving from headwind to tailwind, caused problems for a number of drivers, while another issue witnessed throughout the session was slow cars on the racing line and thereby causing a major problem for much faster cars approaching from behind.

Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes 1-2, and while it is known that all six Mercedes-powered cars have new engines, the German manufacturer is not ready to say just yet whether these are the old or new spec units. Apparently, all will be revealed after this session.

The lights go green, but it is a couple of minutes before Magnussen heads out to get proceedings underway.

The Dane is followed by his Haas teammate, Magnussen on supers and Grosjean on softs.

While Magnussen posts a 37.570, a spin for Grosjean at T12 means he can only manage a 44.740.

More drivers head out and a number appear to be following Haas' example in mixing their compounds.

A brief moment for Alonso as he runs wide, while teammate Vandoorne goes quickest with a 37.219.

Hartley briefly takes the top spot with a 36.358 before losing out to Grosjean (36.90) and then Magnussen (35.986).

A spin for Raikkonen in T2, the Finn on the softs. Teammate Vettel is on supers.

A 35.840 sees Grosjean go quickest but the Ferrari duo are now on hot laps.

Vettel posts 35.665 on the supers, but Raikkonen posts 35.165 on the softs.

A 34.923 sees Verstappen go quickest on the supersofts.

Vettel responds with a 34.647as Hartley goes sixth, ahead of Ocon, Perez and Vandoorne.

After 16 minutes, the Mercedes duo have yet to appear.

At which point Hamilton heads out on a new set of supersofts and Bottas on a new set of softs.

Bottas goes straight to the top of the timesheets on the softs (34.156), while Hamilton's first effort is only good enough for 5th (34.988).

"It is quite windy, quite gusty, so the track is a lot slower than FP1," reveals Vettel.

"There is something wrong," warns Sainz, "lots of spikes of rear-locking."

Hamilton improves with a 33.915 to go quickest.

Running wide, Alonso loses a small piece of his front wing as he runs across the abrasive run-off strips.

After 31 minutes it's business as usual for the top six, behind them it's Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Ocon and Grosjean.

Leclerc and Hartley are the first to switch to the ultras. "Qualy push, qualy push," the Sauber driver is urged.

Hartley improves to tenth with a 35.697 as more and more drivers now switch to the purple-banded rubber.

Quickest only in S2 on the ultras, Vettel goes second overall with a 33.689.

Ricciardo goes quickest in the first two sectors on the ultras, finally crossing the line at 33.243 to take the top spot.

The session is red-flagged after Perez spins off at T7 after losing his left-rear wheel. On the pit-wall there is obvious concern, the Mexican was on a flying lap. Thankfully, the errant wheel continues on its merry way without hitting anyone or anything.

With 40:00 remaining and still under the red flag, it's: Ricciardo, Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas, Magnussen, Gasly, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg and Sainz.

The session resumes and Raikkonen and Hamilton are among the first out.

However, we won't be seeing Bottas for a while as the car is up on its stand and the crew working feverishly at the rear.

Vettel has switched from the ultrasofts back to the supers.

Hamilton posts 32.539 to go quickest, while a 33.271 sees Verstappen go third, both are on the ultras.

Mercedes reveals that there is a water leak on Bottas' car which means we won't be seeing the Finn again today.

"I've lost all the gear sync," reports Hulkenberg.

Perez arrives in the paddock in as pick-up track with his car on the back. Since the incident, as a precautionary measure, Ocon has remained in his garage.

As attention now shifts to Sunday's opening stint, the drivers are on longer runs on high fuel.

With the workload now fully on his shoulders, Hamilton is lapping in the mid 38s. Both Red Bull drivers, albeit on supers as opposed to ultras, are setting a similar pace. Vettel setting a strong pace on the supers, while Raikkonen is slightly slower on the ultras.

Both Williams drivers over 3.3s off the pace.

"Give me information, please" demands Stroll, "tell me something I should be doing, or whatever!"

Moments after a brief battle with Sainz, Hartley has stopped on track. The VSC is deployed as the kiwi climbs from the car, a flame licking at the rear from the exhaust.

The VSC is withdrawn with 5:15 remaining.

With the earlier problem thought to be down to the wheel or nut not the hub, with just over two minutes remaining, Perez heads out.

A late spin for Alonso as Ricciardo is advised that Vettel is posting 37.6s on his supers.

The session ends, and as in FP1, Hamilton is quickest, this time ahead of Ricciardo, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Vettel, Grosjean, Bottas, Alonso, Magnussen and Gasly.

Hulkenberg is eleventh, ahead of Sainz, Vandoorne, Leclerc, Hartley, Ocon, Stroll, Sirotkin and Perez.

Check out our Friday gallery from Paul Ricard, here.

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