By Lucía Santiago
Montmelo, Spain, Aug 14 (efe-epa).- Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finished one-two here Friday in free practice for the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix, nearly a full second faster than Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
The Dutchman bested the Mercedes duo last Sunday to win the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix in Silverstone, but the Red Bull driver acknowledged that his victory was made possible by the toll the heat took on the tires of the Silver Arrows.
But the Mercedes tires held up well Friday despite a track temperature of 50 C (122 F) at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Montmelo.
“This is the hottest it’s been, I don’t think I’ve been to Spain when it’s this hot, normally we’re here in February and March or early May,” Hamilton said after the session. “It’s beautiful weather but it’s a killer in the car and it’s obviously very tough on tires as well.”
Even so, the six-time world champion added: “it’s been a good day.”
Though Hamilton is certainly the favorite to secure what would be his 92rd career poll in qualifying on Saturday, he expressed a healthy respect for Red Bull’s pace on the straightaways.
“The long runs, we look very close with the Red Bulls, so I think it’s going to be a close race,” the Briton said.
Bottas had the best lap in Free Practice 1, finishing 0.39 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who was 0.287 quicker than his Finnish teammate in FP2.
Verstappen took the third spot, followed by Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), Roman Grosjean (Haas) and Charles Leclerc (Ferrari).
The only Spaniard in the race, Carlos Sainz (McLaren), was seventh as the team engineers continued to struggle with the unexplained overheating issue with his car.
“Looking to Saturday we have to take the final step, the final push, to resolve it. If not, it will start to be something really worrying,” the man who will replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari in 2021 said.
Sergio “Checo” Perez (Racing Point), Esteban Ocon (Renault) and Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) rounded out the top 10.
Four-time F1 champion Vettel was 12th.
Hamilton, 35, leads the driver standings with 107 points, 30 more than Verstappen. Bottas is third with 73 points. EFE