Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets in both of yesterday’s sessions, but while FP1 was as irrelevant as ever – considering qualifying and the race take place in entirely different conditions – the task of ranking the packing order wasn’t helped by the need to test Pirelli’s prototype 2021 tyres.
Verstappen looked good, as did Albon, until the youngster made a mistake and paid for it with his car. As a result, the Thai driver has a new chassis for the remainder of the weekend.
Ricciardo, Perez, Gasly and Norris all looked strong, while both Ferraris were outside the top ten. That said, we repeat that it would be wrong to start drawing any conclusions… other than the fact that Mercedes is likely to be as strong as ever.
The lights go green and Magnussen is first out, the Dane sporting the softs. He is subsequently joined by his teammate.
The Haas pair subsequently pit at which point Raikkonen heads out.
With temperatures higher than we can expect for qualifying or the race, most drivers are looking likely to wait a little longer.
Raikkonen posts a 1:31.247.
Following a big, big lock-up, Raikkonen heads back to the pits as the Williams pair head out.
Twenty minutes in and there are just three times on the board – those of Raikkonen and the Williams pair – while only five drivers have been out.
At which point Vettel, Stroll and the McLarens head out. All sporting softs.
As Vettel begins his first flying lap, more and more drivers head out.
Giovinazzi posts 31.025 and Magnussen a 31.131, while Vettel crosses the line at 31.926.
No sooner has Norris gone top (30.427), than Albon stops the clock at 30.394.
Gasly posts 30.232 and Perez 30.159 as the session finally comes to life.
Verstappen goes quickest with a 29.617, as Hamilton posts a 29.986 to go second.
Verstappen feels traction is better than yesterday, while Vettel isn’t happy with a slow Russell in the Williams. We’re pretty certain the Briton won’t be too happy about being so slow either.
Verstappen improves to 29.600 on his second flying lap, but clearly the Mercedes are unable to improve.
A lock-up in Turn 8 for Bottas, the Finn looking increasingly ill at ease here.
Gasly is currently fourth, behind Perez, but ahead of Albon, Ocon, Norris, Leclerc, Ricciardo and Bottas.
With 20:00 remaining, Bottas switches to a fresh set of softs, suggesting that the qualifying sims are about to get underway.
On those brand new red-banded tyres, Bottas goes quickest in the first two sectors, finally crossing the line at 28.721, to go quickest by 0.879.
At which point Hamilton heads out.
Other than his teammate and the Williams pair, the world champion has the track to himself.
He can only manage a PB in S1, however he goes quickest in S2. At the line it’s 28.618, to go top by 0.103.
Now more drivers head out, with Verstappen immediately on the pace as he goes quickest in S1. He maintains the pace in the more difficult second sector, crossing the line at 28.355 to go top by 0.263.
Sainz improves from 13th to 4th with a 29.455. The Spaniard is subsequently demoted when Albon posts 29.018.
Vettel improves to tenth, as Perez posts a PB in S1 and Hamilton bolts on a fresh set of softs.
A poor final sector means that Perez can only manage tenth (29.672), as the Renault pair begin their flyers.
Ocon goes eleventh (29.691) but is demoted when his teammate stops the clock at 29.684.
Hamilton is back in the pits where the crew appear to be adjusting something in his cockpit.
He subsequently heads out only to grind to a halt at the end of the pitlane. His crew rush to his assistance.
The session ends, Verstappen is quickest, ahead of Hamilton, Bottas, Albon, Sainz, Gasly, Norris, Kvyat, Stroll and Perez.
Ricciardo is eleventh, ahead of Ocon, Vettel, Giovinazzi, Leclerc, Russell, Grosjean, Magnussen, Raikkonen and Latifi.