Lewis Hamilton finished fastest in opening practice for the Spanish Grand Prix

13 May, 2017, 10:35 | Author: Felix Jensen

Mercedes topped the P1 charts earlier in the day with Lewis Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas first and second respectively, and the duo continued their dominance in second practice.

The top four were covered by half-a-second, whilst Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo and Renault's Nico Hulkenberg were the only other drivers to finish within one second of Hamilton's benchmark.

But that the Silver Arrows improvements have worked so quickly may leave their rivals concerned that they will dominate for the rest of the season, as they have for the previous three years.

The Stevenage-born motor racer said: "First practice was very, very good but in second practice the track changed and shifted quite a lot, so it was slippery and quite a lot slower for everyone - especially with the gusts of wind".

Lewis Hamilton insists that he always knew that Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas would be stiff competition, and he's never underestimated the Finn.

The Brazilian was himself called upon to help Kimi Raikkonen's campaign at Ferrari back in 2007.

"I think coming into this weekend we have a good understanding what went wrong on our side of the garage", Hamilton said.

Red Bull hoped that their upgrade for this race would bring them closer to Mercedes and Ferrari and that, too, appears to be the case.

"I think we've definitely grown from the experience, both having a win, having a fast vehicle and obviously having a auto that struggled in so many areas".

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That result moved Bottas to 23 points adrift of championship leader Sebastian Vettel and 10 behind his team-mate. Eighth went to Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, with Massa and Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz claiming the final points .

"Today I wasn't very happy with the feeling I was getting but I can also feel the vehicle was quick", Vettel told Sky F1.

"I just have to keep pushing, keep getting stronger, and hoping to get more success".

Bottas has twice outqualified Hamilton so far this year, and was much quicker in race trim in Russian Federation, where he scored his first win. "I don't think anyone in history has brought their dog to a (F1) press conference, but I like to do things differently".

Tyre suppliers Pirelli will take their harder tyres, not greatly loved by Mercedes on the evidence so far this year, to Barcelona this weekend.

"We have to wait and see what the updates will bring", Verstappen said.

"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.

But that does not mean much as the teams, all with upgraded packages, begin the European season with Ferrari likely to set the pace if the weather conditions put the onus on tyre management.

Two-time champion and local hero Fernando Alonso missed the entire morning session after an engine failure before he had completed a single lap, but he emerged 30 minutes into the second session to give his fans something to cheer on his way to winding up down in 20th and last sport.

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