‘Lucky’ Hamilton fights to be on top in Spain campaign
BARCELONA: Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton returned to the top of the timesheets in second Spanish Grand Prix practice yesterday, with the charging Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen hot on his heels.
The Briton, who leads the championship by four points from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel after four races, lapped the Circuit de Catalunya in one minute, 18.259 seconds on the soft tyres.
Australian Ricciardo, whose car has some eye-catching aerodynamic upgrades for the start of the European season, ended the session 0.133 seconds slower after crashing in the morning, while Verstappen was third.
Vettel, who will be chasing his fourth successive pole position today, was fourth and Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas fifth.
Vettel’s team mate Kimi Raikkonen suffered a power unit problem.
Bottas set the day’s overall fastest lap in the opening session with a time of 1:18.148 seconds on the soft tyres, a remarkable 0.849 faster than Hamilton, who won from pole in Spain last year. Hamilton has not felt fully comfortable with his car and recognised that his championship advantage owes a lot to luck.
“At the moment, I am punching below my weight and that is not sufficient to win a world championship,” said on Thursday. “I have zero comfortability.”
The virtual safety car was deployed in the morning when Ricciardo’s car ran across the gravel and into the barriers.
“Thankfully, the damage is pretty light,” team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports. “It was the old front wing, so he’s a lucky boy.”
Fernando Alonso started the weekend a morale-boosting sixth, behind Raikkonen, with his Mclaren displaying a heavily-revised threepronged nose. The Spaniard later slipped back to 12th.
Williams had another trying session as Polish reserve Robert Kubica took part in a race weekend for the first time since 2010. The former race winner was 19th, in 1:21.510, and faster than teenage Canadian teammate Lance Stroll, who was in last place on the timesheets with a best of 1:22.756 after his car went off into the gravel.
Kubica’s car had a newer floor than Stroll’s, however.
“Unbelievable how bad the balance is,” Stroll complained over the radio.
Kubica was replacing Russian rookie Sergey Sirotkin, who returned for second practice and was slowest in 1:22.060. – Reuters