Hamilton fastest as Mercedes step up the pace

Jessica Allison
May 13, 2017

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas secured a Mercedes one-two in second practice at the Spanish Grand Prix, comfortably clear of the Ferraris.

Ferrari and Mercedes may be the front-runners again, but Red Bull expect to be close in pursuit with a heavily-updated auto while local hero Fernando Alonso has more modest hopes. "This fight will continue on to the end of the season and we will be prepared for that battle".

All but three of the last 16 Spanish Grands Prix have been won from pole position. Red Bull is thought to be bringing further updates throughout the weekend, so judging the success of the so-called B-spec RB13 on FP1 pace alone would probably be a bit premature. The Formula One race will be held on Sunday.

"There are two top teams fighting for both championships and I expect Red Bull will also eventually join the club", Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff said.

"If you have another team that is fighting for the championship and you have a driver that is more than 20 points behind, he will need to do the same. That would already be a good step forward".

Hamilton added to his reputation as one of the most eccentric characters of F1 by bringing Roscoe, one of his two bulldogs, to the packed pre-race news conference on Thursday.

Mercedes, like all teams, arrive at Barcelona with auto upgrades and Bottas reckons the battle with Ferrari will continue to be defined by fine margins. "It's a good feeling for everyone when these upgrades work".

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"The season will start new", he said. But, despite a strong start, he was warned previous year by Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene that he would have to earn his next contract after a below-par campaign.

And although tyres have played a role in the outcome, most notably Ferrari's two wins and Bottas' Bahrain Grand Prix struggles, the Finn reckons over time the tyres will have less of an impact on the race results. "Honda are doing the same and we try to work as hard as possible to make sure we will catch up".

"It's been a much better start to the weekend for me than in Sochi, so I'm very happy".

Vettel was in a relaxed mood, joking with home hero Fernando Alonso of McLaren who was sitting alongside him.

Bottas, by contrast, has made it clear that his focus has shifted to trying to win every race after an up-and-down start to the season in which he has been alternately impressive - with his first win in Russian Federation and first pole in Bahrain - and not, such as when he spun behind the safety auto during the Chinese Grand Prix.

Alonso was one of the three drivers who won races early in 2013 while driving for Ferrari.

Mercedes has introduced a raft of upgrades for the first European round of the 2017 F1 season, including a more tapered nose, a re-designed shark "fin" and a "scooped duct".

Other reports by My Hot News

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