Only a tenth separated Verstappen and Hamilton in FP1, with the former holding the advantage in the morning – but when everyone switched to the soft tire for their qualifying simulation, Verstappen had a very messy lap.
READ MORE: Bottas leads first practice in Spain for Mercedes ahead of Verstappen and Hamilton
First he locked himself in turn 1 and while the Red Bull driver was only down 0.1s after the first sector he carried way too much speed in turn 10, ran very wide – going beyond the limits of the track – and decided to interrupt the race and finally finished ninth.
There weren’t any such problems for Hamilton, who sat a fraction of Bottas after the first practice on medium tires, but jumped ahead of the pack when he moved on to compound on softer, finishing 0.139 s ahead of the Finn.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was a third surprise, with the Monegasque completing the last fastest section of them all, finishing just 0.165s adrift, around three tenths more than his teammate Carlos Sainz, who completed a less clean lap that was also impacted by traffic.
Pierre Gasly was a fraction behind in sixth, his AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda recovering from a curb run early in the session – which put the car in idle mode – to finish seventh, just 0.026 seconds off Gasly.
The Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Perez closed the top 10, neither showing the true rhythm of the RB16B in a somewhat frustrating session for the quadruple world champion team.
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Sebastian Vettel, who received the upgrade from his Aton Martin teammate Lance Stroll, was the first green car in 11th place, 0.777 seconds behind and two tenths behind the Canadian.
His teammate Daniel Ricciardo, eliminated in Q1 in Portugal, was 0.1s slower in 15th. Antonio Giovinazzi was the fastest Alfa Romeo in 13th place, one tenth and three places ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who picked up his reserve car Robert Kubica for FP2.
There was no heroism from George Russell in FP2, as he finished seven tenths behind Raikkonen, but he beat his teammate Nicholas Latifi, with the Haas duo of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin at the back.