F1 2015 Spanish Grand Prix: Hamilton fastest in second practice ahead of Barcelona qualifying
PUBLISHED: 17:57 08 May 2015 | UPDATED: 18:03 08 May 2015
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was fastest in second practice as Mercedes dominated the first day of running in Barcelona ahead of the 2015 Spanish Grand Prix.
The 30-year-old Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire topped the afternoon practice timesheets on a bright and breezy opening day at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
His Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg topped the morning session, with Lewis just 0.070s behind in P2, while the Brit claimed top spot in the afternoon with Nico P3.
Rosberg clocked 1m 26.828s in first practice, with Hamilton lapping in a best time of 1m 26.852 in the afternoon.
Hamilton said: “It’s been a fairly decent day – mainly working on setup, tweaking the balance bit by bit.
Circuit de Catalunya: The race
* Start time: 14.00 (local) / 13.00 (BST).
* Race distance: 66 laps (full world championship points awarded after 75% distance/49.5 laps).
* 2014 winner: Lewis Hamilton.
* 2014 pole position: Lewis Hamilton 1m25.232s 196.616km/h.
* 2014 fastest lap: Sebastian Vettel 1m28.918s 188.466km/h.
* Chances of a Safety Car: Low. There have been five Safety Car periods since 2003 and four of those were for first-lap incidents.
* Don’t put the kettle on… Between laps 18-20 and 40-43. Last year’s race was won using a two-stop strategy. The medium-compound tyre was the preferred race tyre, with most cars using the harder compound late in the race for a short dash to the flag.
* Weather forecast: The long-term forecast looks good, with temperatures in the low-20s. The chance of rain is low.
“It’s often hard to get a good comparison between the sessions with the track and wind conditions changing.
“The wind was quite strong at times today and really inconsistent around the lap.”
Hamilton added: “The car is quite affected by that and it was pretty hot out there in the afternoon too, so I think maybe the temperatures also had an effect on lap times.
“The priority was understanding the tyres and how they wear because, ultimately, the race is the most important part of the weekend.
Circuit de Catalunya: The car
* Fuel consumption: 1.7kg per lap, making it fairly average in terms of fuel consumption.
* Full throttle: 63 per cent.
* Brake wear: Medium. There are eight braking events, but only 13 per cent of the lap is spent braking and there are two long straights along which to cool the brakes.
* Gear changes: 44 per lap/2904 per race.
“We’ve not analysed the times yet but our pace felt pretty strong.”
Both Silver Arrows drivers used the Prime (hard) tyre only in practice one, the Prime and Option (medium) in practice two
Rosberg said: “It’s great to be back in Europe and back to this track, where we did so many laps in the winter tests.
“I worked a lot on race pace in the afternoon and was happy with my long run, where we seemed to be quicker than the Ferraris.
Circuit de Catalunya: The track
* First race: 1991.
* Circuit length: 4.655km/2.892 miles.
* Run to Turn One: 730 metres – the longest of the season.
* Longest straight: 1.047km, on the approach to Turn One.
* Top speed: 330km/h on the approach to Turn One.
* DRS zones: Two – the first on the approach to Turn One, the second on the approach to Turn 10.
* Key corner: Turn Three. This is a tricky uphill right-hander, through which the drivers get hard on the throttle before they can see the exit. A lot of time can be saved through here if your car has a good high-speed balance.
* Pitlane length: 331 metres.
* Major changes for 2015: None.
“On one lap I still have a bit of work to do to find some more speed, so I’ll be working hard with the team tonight to find out where I can improve.”
The German added: “On track it was quite a difficult day for everyone, I think.
“The conditions were really strange and the track was very poor.
“I don’t know really why but hopefully it will be more predictable for qualifying and the race.”
Did you know?
The end of the lap was re-profiled in 2007.
A chicane was installed to slow the cars prior to the final corner, dropping the average lap speed by 12kph.
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, was happy with the team’s progress on a “tricky” day.
Wolff said: “It was an unusual day out on track and a good one for us, with one of our drivers topping each session.
“You could see that it was tricky out there for all the drivers in the field – some of the onboard shots were all over the place and pretty exciting to watch.
“Both our boys were complaining about a lack of grip and I’m sure that was similar for every team.”
He added: “The second session was quite a strange one, with some unusual gaps between the teams, and we found the car was better on the Prime tyre than the Option in the hot conditions.
“Like last year, we looked particularly strong in the third sector, for which you need to keep the tyres in good condition around the rest of the lap – and that’s an encouraging sign.
“There’s now plenty of work ahead of us to analyse the data tonight and make the right choices for tomorrow and Sunday.”
Today’s Mercedes programme focused on setup work in the morning and tyre evaluation in the afternoon.
Paddy Lowe, Mercedes’ executive technical director, said: “It’s been a reasonably trouble-free day and a positive start to the weekend.
“It was quite windy out on track but generally the conditions have been good.
“The morning session focused on experimenting with setup, while the afternoon followed the usual programme of learning how best to use the tyres for qualifying and the race.
“Our pace looked encouraging on both compounds but we’re expecting another close battle.”
He added: “On the long runs there were some difficult aspects to managing the tyres, so we’ll be working hard overnight to put ourselves in the best position possible for the race.
“Finally, we’ve brought quite a few aerodynamic updates to this race, so a big thank you to everybody back at the factory for putting in the hard work to get those on the car for this weekend.”