MONTMELO, Spain (AP) — Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton looked poised to extend their dominance of Formula One after clocking the fastest laps in practice for the Spanish Grand Prix on Friday.
Ferrari fast-tracked a new engine and brought in other updates during the two-week break since the Mercedes pair claimed their fourth consecutive one-two finish in Azerbaijan. But Hamilton and Bottas were still faster than their Ferrari rivals.
Bottas posted the top times in both sessions under sunny and warm conditions at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, lowering his own mark from the morning session.
Five-time and defending champion Hamilton was a sliver behind, at 0.049 seconds slower.
Charles Leclerc had the third best time in his Ferrari, followed by teammate and former champion Sebastian Vettel.
The young Belgian also provided a scare to Bottas in the morning, when Verstappen flew through a curve and almost rammed into the Finn. Verstappen slammed on the brakes in time, before shaking his fist at Bottas.
Verstappen, the only non-Mercedes driver to win the Spanish GP in the past five years, had to come into the garage for an apparent leak. He also complained later he was losing power when he tried to accelerate.
The first session ended under a red flag after Lance Stroll clipped some grass, lost control and plowed his Racing Point into the barrier. Stroll walked away and was back out on the track once team mechanics patched up his crunched car.
As for the lowly Williams, it seems there is no relief in store after Robert Kubica and George Russell finished at the bottom of the time sheet, around three seconds slower that the pacesetter. Kubica did do well to keep his car off the wall when he went off course early in the afternoon session.
There will be a third practice on Saturday before qualifying. The race is on Sunday.
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