Spanish GP: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes back on top after free practice sessions
- Author: Marjorie Miles May 13, 2017,
May 13, 2017, 0:55
Mercedes arrived at the Spanish Grand Prix after making improvements to their W08 auto and after Friday's practice sessions Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were both impressed with the new offering.
Hamilton was 0.09 seconds quicker than his team-mate but 0.310secs clear of the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who was 0.118secs ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
Ferrari's championship leader Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton will start as favourites and success for either could be an omen because both went on to take the title the last time they won in Spain.
Last year's Spanish GP victor Max Verstappen was again ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, by one tenth and finishing 0.636s off Hamilton's best despite a scrappy session.
Vettel has a nine-point lead over Hamilton in the drivers' standings and is 23 points in front of Bottas. 'I am happy with the team, but we are not winning.
Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff said the team is doing everything to make the vehicle perform well again, and also continues to adapt to no longer being the unchallenged number one in the sport. "There will be upgrades for everybody, and we will be doing work tomorrow to get the vehicle in the right place". I wasn't too happy, but I can feel the vehicle is quick so that is good.
"We wanted this season to be so far better for us, but I think it's very good in general having the competition".
"I hope tomorrow, whoever that was, will disappear...."
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With the championship finely balanced after four long-haul races, Mercedes turned up at the Circuit de Catalunya with a vehicle whose revised features drew appreciative and apprehensive murmurs around the paddock.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver is well aware that teams normally hold-back some performance for Saturday; after all, it is a tactic utilised by Mercedes themselves.
Hamilton is someone who is always on the limit and beyond, but that can make these tyres overheat faster.
Red Bull had a slightly discordant session, with both cars undergoing work at times, but there were signs that the latest upgrade has wrought improvement with the lead RB13 within 1.1s of the Mercedes.
"I'm struggling a bit to find the rhythm, I'm struggling a bit with the conditions, probably more myself than the auto".
"We've just got to keep our heads down and keep working, we want to be number one".
Nico Hulkenberg was seventh for Renault ahead of his team-mate Jolyon Palmer, Brazilian Felipe Massa of Williams and Spaniard Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso. "Very tricky conditions today", said Raikkonen.