Verstappen edges out Bottas in FP2

18/06/2021
NEWS STORY

Ahead of today's second practice session the air temperature is 27 degrees C, while the track temperature is 48 degrees.

Having handed his car over to test and reserve Roy Nissany earlier, George Russell is back in the second Williams this afternoon.

Valtteri Bottas was quickest in a scrappy morning session, edging out teammate Lewis Hamilton and the two Red Bull drivers.

While there were no incidents worthy of a red flag, there were plenty of offs and near misses, the result of the wind - not for nothing is the main straight called Mistral - and overenthusiasm.

While drivers do not have to contend with the walls and barriers encountered at the last two tracks, the run-offs and kerbs here can be equally unforgiving.

The pitlane opens as Raikkonen leads the way, followed by Russell, Vettel, Latifi and Stroll, as in FP1 all three compounds appear to be in use.

Mazepin complains of "lumps" in his seat.

Giovinazzi posts 35.522, but moments later Bottas posts a far more sensible 32.880. Verstappen goes second with a 33.882, like Bottas he is on the yellow-banded rubber.

"There's something shooting forward in the cockpit," reports Vettel, "it just touched my foot."

In quick succession, Tsunoda, Norris and Sainz run wide in Turn 6.

A 33.289 sees Hamilton go second, 0.409s down on his teammate.

A spin for Mazepin at Turn 15, the final corner before the pit straight.

The VSC is briefly deployed as Verstappen runs wide and loses a piece of his front wing.

"We're a little short of carbonfibre," Red Bull's Jonathan Wheatley tells race director Michael Masi, "can we get it back after the session?"

Bottas switches to the softs as do Vettel and Stroll.

Sainz runs wide in Turn 4, the Spaniard having made a number of such mistakes today.

Despite going quickest in S2, Bottas loses time in the two remaining sectors and consequently fails to improve.

Perez and Ocon, currently fourth and fifth, switch to the softs.

Despite PBs in the opening sectors, Perez also fails to improve, unlike Ocon who goes third with a 33.821.

While Hamilton's 33.125 closes to within 0.245s of his teammate, it is clear the drivers are struggling for grip.

"Something's not right with the car," reports Hamilton, who, remember, is using Bottas' Baku chassis.

Quickest in the first and final sectors and among the last to switch to softs, Verstappen goes quickest with a 32.872.

"Not too bad," he reports, at which point he is told to pit.

Alonso goes fourth and Raikkonen sixth, proving there is life in these old dogs yet.

PBS in all three sectors see Leclerc improve to fifth (33.550).

"I nearly hit the Haas," reports Perez as he finds a certain Russian driver gently cruising on the racing line.

Clearly unhappy with the softs, Hamilton switches to mediums, as does Verstappen.

Incidentally, the Bulls, Pierre Gasly and the Alpine pair all have new power units this weekend.

As was the case in the previous two events, Ricciardo is talked through a lap, advised where he is losing out and how he can improve.

A mistake in the final corner for Hamilton, as the drivers continue their long runs. All twenty drivers are on track.

Bottas is around 0.8s quicker than his teammate.

"Loss of rear grip," reports Verstappen as he runs wide in Turn 6.

On hards, Alonso is told he is doing a "nice job" compared to some of the medium runners. The Spaniard is currently fourth.

The session ends as Jonathan Wheatley, much like Ron Meadows at Mercedes, continues to harangue Michael Masi over the sausage kerbs… with little success.

The session ends. Verstappen is quickest, ahead of Bottas, Hamilton, Alonso, Leclerc, Ocon, Gasly, Sainz, Raikkonen and Norris.

Giovinazzi is eleventh, ahead of Perez, Tsunoda, Ricciardo, Vettel, Stroll, Russell, Latifi, Schumacher and Mazepin.

Check out our Friday gallery from Paul Ricard, here.

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Published: 18/06/2021
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