Valtteri Bottas led a Mercedes one-two in the second practice for this weekends Brazilian Grand Prix. The Finn edged out his teammate Lewis Hamilton by three-thousandths of a second, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third.
This weekend is looking as it could be a close fight between the two manufacturers and Red Bull, with the top five cars covered by half a second. All three teams appear to have the same kind of performance around Interlagos.
However, the Silver Arrows struggled to match Ferrari and Red Bull’s pace in the last two events, Mexico and USA, but Bottas’ flier of 1:08.846 indicated they are back in the groove in Brazil.
Bottas set his fastest time on the supersofts appearing as he had the edge over his teammate in the twisty middle sector, while Hamilton held the edge over him in the first and third sectors. It wasn’t an easy session for the Ferrari driver.
Vettel was seven hundreds off Bottas, he had gone fastest early on before complaining there was something loose within his cockpit. He told the team, “There’s still something loose, jumping back and forth,” after setting his best lap, with Ferrari continuing its investigations once he returned to the garage.
Vettel’s former teammate Daniel Ricciardo was fifth fastest but will have a five-place grid penalty due to an unscheduled turbo change. It didn’t get much better for Max Verstappen, as both drivers struggled to find the pace from earlier in the morning.
Verstappen lost much off the session with an oil leak, as the team slipped further behind Mercedes and Ferrari. When he did get back out, his track time was further reduced as Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg lost control and crashed into the wall exiting Juncao.
Hulkenberg will be on the backfoot after escaping unharmed from the incident but leaves Renault with a huge repair job overnight.
The car suffered an impact at the right rear, then the right front, and Hulkenberg could play no further part in the session and was classified based on his early pace using medium Pirellis.
Haas remained the strongest midfield team with Romain Grosjean seventh and teammate Kevin Magnussen ninth, the duo split by the Sauber of Charles Leclerc. The Force India duo of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez were tenth and eleventh fastest but had a two tenth lead over Pierre Gasly.
In his first session of the weekend, Fernando Alonso was twelfth fastest in the McLaren. The Spaniard was again faster than his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne who was seventeenth fastest.
Carlos Sainz lightly brushed wheels with Grosjean’s Haas in the closing minutes of the session at Turn 1 when both were on long runs, finishing fourteenth.
Marcus Ericsson was over half a second off his teammate in fifteenth, but lead the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin by half a tenth. The Russian teammate Lance Stroll was eighteenth.
Brendon Hartley was slowest of those on the supersofts, just under a second off Grosjean.