Mercedes sets the pace in practice for Spanish GP

Tyler Owen
May 12, 2018

The defending four-time world champion and current series leader broke the track lap record with a series of laps that culminated in him clocking 1:16.173, 0.040 seconds ahead of his team-mate Finn Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes locked up the front row of the grid.

Most teams brought significant updates for their cars to Barcelona as Formula One returned to Europe after races in Australia, Bahrain, China and Azerbaijan. "I was feeling good too and I looked at the tower and then I saw my name didn't go up - but, then, we expected Mercedes to be strong".

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen take up third and fourth on the grid in Row 2, with the Red Bull Racing teammates of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo in Row 3.

Vettel's teammate Kimi Raikkonen suffered a power unit problem.

Race organizers said additional security was implemented after several cars were broken into at a closed parking lot for the media at the track.

"The day was pretty good, but it was a tricky one because it was so windy out there", said the Briton, who was gifted a win in Baku two weeks ago when Bottas had a puncture in the closing laps while leading. "I guess they just know they have it and they just turn it up when they need it".

During the afternoon session when race pace simulations were conducted, the average pace of the top three teams (Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari) indicated little difference between the teams, on the supersoft tyre especially.

Kubica was 19th in 1:21.510, but quicker than his Canadian teenager teammate Lance Stroll who was 20th after a trip into the gravel.

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Stroll ran wide at Turn 4 after a wobble on corner entry, although stopped before the barriers and managed to get his vehicle back to the pits.

"In the end it's hard to say that it was enjoyable because our vehicle balance was very bad and it was very hard to drive, so it was hard to enjoy", Kubica said.

Vettel admits that Ferrari could either end up on pole position or as far back as sixth place, which according to the four-time champion makes it more exciting even for the drivers.

Stroll almost hit the tire barriers after going off the track with about a half-hour left in the session.

"We always want to go faster, we want to improve technology, push the boundaries and limits, one of the exciting things this year is we are breaking records".

Haas will also follow the same strategy, with Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean progressing through Q2 on soft rubber.

Alonso's result marking the first time a McLaren has made the top 10 all season. He will run the softs during final practice on Saturday morning.

Sergio Perez had a mechanical issue with Force India and had to retire near the end of the second session.

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