F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?
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Mercedes have thrown down the gauntlet, much like they did last time out in Portugal, ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, with both drivers topping the timing sheets respectively in the first two practice sessions of the weekend.
Valtteri Bottas set the pace in first practice, continuing his fine form from Portimao, where he snatched pole position and a podium spot, ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who was 0.033s seconds behind in the first session.
Lewis Hamilton outpaced his team-mate in second practice ahead of Bottas, with Verstappen settling for ninth fastest overall.
And Hamilton was pleased with a positive result, with Mercedes taking the crown as favourites.
“It’s been a good start to the weekend, track is awesome and balance is similar to what we’ve had in the last race so it looks close, but looks like we have decent pace,” said Hamilton.
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owever the seven-time world champion said there is still work to do out there, and admits competition is high.
“We have to work at it,” explained the Briton. “It never comes that easy, and I don’t think with this car it’s ever going to be the case.
“But we understand the car, and we know which direction we need to go, balance-wise, so we’ve made some tweaks along the way.
“I don’t know if it got better this session necessarily, but there were some findings there, so hoping, once we can analyse these two sessions, hopefully we’ll have a better session [on Saturday].
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Meanwhile, Verstappen was off the pace in the second session, but remained optimistic come qualifying on Saturday.
He said: “Overall I think we actually had quite a good day and the car seems pretty competitive. I was a little bit wide at Turn 10 on my push lap in FP2 but there is nothing shocking to report from either session.
“The track changes to Turn 10 seem better over one lap when you are pushing. It is a bit faster and more enjoyable to drive, but for overtaking I think it could be worse.
“How competitive we are going to be on Saturday is always going to be a question mark on a Friday but from our side we are quite happy.
“Of course you always want to improve and do better so we just have to make sure tomorrow that we are up there but I’m looking forward to it.”
Just nine points separate Hamilton and Verstappen at the top of the Driver’s Championships standings coming into the weekend, with Hamilton hoping to become the most decorated driver in F1 history.
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