Hamilton Shines in FP2, Mercedes Clinches 1-2

Before today’s second practice session, the air temperature registers at 17 degrees Celsius, with the track slightly warmer at 23 degrees.

In the morning session, Ricciardo led the pack, followed by Norris, Piastri, Tsunoda, and Alonso. Notably, RB and McLaren drivers utilized soft tires. However, due to the session’s unrepresentative nature owing to the conditions, the top teams refrained from using the red-banded rubber.

Regarding upgrades, Red Bull introduced various enhancements including a new Front Wing, Nose, Sidepod Inlet, Floor Edge, Louvres, Coke/Engine Cover, and Front Wing Endplate.

Mercedes debuted upgrades in their Front Wing, Sidepod Inlet, Floor Body, Coke/Engine Cover, Beam Wing, and Rear Wing, while Ferrari unveiled improvements in their Sidepod Inlet, Coke/Engine Cover, and Rear Corner.

McLaren showcased upgrades in their Sidepod Inlet, Coke/Engine Cover, Floor Edge, and Rear Wing, whereas Aston Martin presented enhancements in their Front Wing, Nose, Floor Body, Floor Edge, Sidepod Inlet, Coke/Engine Cover, Rear Suspension, Rear Corner, and Beam Wing.

Alpine introduced a new Front Wing and Floor Edge, while Williams revealed upgrades in their Front Wing, Front Suspension, Floor Body, Floor Fences, Floor Edge, Sidepod Inlet, Coke/Engine Cover, Beam Wing, Rear Wing, Rear Suspension, and Rear Corner.

RB showcased enhancements in their Nose, Front Wing, Front Suspension, Front Corner, Floor Body, Floor Edge, Diffuser, Sidepod Inlet, Coke/Engine Cover, Cooling Louvres, and Rear Wing. Stake brought in upgrades in their Front Suspension, Coke/Engine Cover, and Floor Body.

Lastly, Haas introduced improvements in their Front Wing Endplate, Front Wing, Sidepod Inlet, Floor Body, Floor Fences, Floor Edge, Coke/Engine Cover, Front Suspension, Front Corner, Rear Suspension, and Rear Corner.

As the session begins, there is no frantic rush to get on track unlike in the morning. The first driver, Zhou, ventures out a couple of minutes after the green light, followed by Hulkenberg, Piastri, and Albon.

More drivers join the track, opting for a mix of medium and soft tires. Bottas faces investigation for a pitlane infringement. Among the initial group, comprising everyone except Verstappen and Russell, Hamilton records the fastest time (30.751), leading Leclerc, Perez, and Sainz.

The top contenders all utilize the red-banded rubber. Alonso secures the second spot with a time of 31.035, while Stroll takes fifth place and Russell sets out on the track.

“Norris notes, “I’m bottoming a lot more than I was before,” while Ricciardo expresses difficulties with his front end.

Russell achieves seventh place with a time of 31.821, while Verstappen quickly follows with a time of 31.271, securing fourth position.

Leclerc acknowledges, “I did a big mistake in the last corner,” prompting him to enter the pits afterward.

Verstappen voices his grievances: “There’s too much air coming into my helmet.”

Currently, all teams except for Red Bull Racing are using soft tires.

Hulkenberg sets the fastest time in Sector 1, while Norris requests a steering wheel change before his next stint. Hulkenberg completes a lap in 30.884, securing second place.

With fresh soft tires, Sainz and Piastri climb to second and third positions respectively, narrowly trailing Hamilton’s leading pace.

Leclerc admitted; “I locked up on the kerb at Turn 4.”

Using new soft tires, Hamilton solidifies his position at the top with a time of 30.374.

Despite having fresh soft tires, Perez only achieves sixth place. Verstappen manages to improve his position to fourth but still trails by 0.477 seconds.

Leclerc voices his concerns; “Lance was in the middle of the way in Turn 1 because they don’t look in the mirrors.”

Russell secures second place with a time of 30.580, resulting in a Mercedes 1-2 on the grid.

Leclerc expresses frustration as the car ahead veers wide in an attempt not to impede the Ferrari, “They are all ******* sleeping tonight.”

Alonso secures third place, trailing by just 0.286 seconds.

While details regarding fuel loads or engine modes remain unclear, as the qualifying simulations conclude and focus turns to Sunday’s race, Verstappen sits in sixth position, 0.477 seconds behind, with Perez trailing by 0.741 seconds.

With 14 minutes left in the session, all drivers except for Sargeant are out on the track.

Verstappen completes a lap in 36.4 seconds, while the Mercedes duo record times around 36.8 seconds, and the Ferraris post low 37-second laps.

Zak Brown told Sky Sports, “I don’t think Red Bull and Ferrari have turned their engines up yet, Let’s see how it goes, we’ve got lots of data. We ultimately don’t know, we’ll look at the data when we’re done but Mercedes certainly looks strong, looks like they have a good car.”

Tsunoda experiences a significant lock-up.

While Verstappen maintains consistent lap times in the low to mid 36-second range, Hamilton’s pace slows to 39.2 seconds, likely due to tire degradation. Nevertheless, the seven-time world champion manages a lap time of 37.1 seconds, with his teammate posting a time of 37.5 seconds.

As the session concludes, Tsunoda completes the most laps with 28, followed by Zhou with 27, and Piastri, Sargeant, and Magnussen with 26 each. Alonso completes the fewest laps with 21.

Hamilton leads the timesheets, followed by Russell, Alonso, Sainz, Piastri, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Stroll, Leclerc, and Perez.

Albon secures eleventh place, ahead of Ricciardo, Sargeant, Magnussen, Tsunoda, Gasly, Bottas, Ocon, Zhou, and Norris.