F1 2021 Spanish Grand Prix: FP1 & 2 Report – Mercedes Lead On Friday
A Mercedes driver topped both practices on Friday in sunny Catalonia. Charles Leclerc carried Ferrari and the Alpines showed good pace in the afternoon.
The first practice in Catalonia began under familiar Iberian sunshine. It did not take long for another familiar sight to take place, as Haas’ Nikita Mazepin drove onto the gravel in Turn 8 on his out lap.
Mazepin was also not making friends on track, as he blocked Charles Leclerc’s lap, which prompted Leclerc to state that “Mazepin will never change” on his team radio.
Two reserve drivers were on track in FP1, Robert Kubica for Alfa Romeo, and Roy Nissany for Williams.
The kerbs around the track emerged as a problem for multiple drivers, and they were warned about breaking their front wings on them. Red Bull was especially worried about this, warning both of their drivers.
The practice got halted from a red flag with 20 minutes to go, as Kubica had gotten stuck in the gravel and his car required a crane to be moved.
Verstappen managed to split the Mercedes for second in the standings. There was also a good effort from McLaren’s Norris to finish FP1 in fourth place.
The sunny conditions remained for FP2, as Bottas and Hamilton were quick to put the Mercedes at the top of the standings. The silver arrows would stay at the summit for the rest of FP2.
The kerbs continued to cause trouble for the drivers, with Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri switching off when the Japanese rattled the car.
When the soft tyre runs came about, Leclerc was able to push his Ferrari near the times of the Mercedes duo, less than two tenths behind Hamilton.
The Alpine cars were also notably quick on softs, finishing fourth and fifth. Verstappen was unable to get a clean lap on his softs, resulting in Red Bull stopping the qualification simulation short.
Mercedes shine on Friday
We should always keep in mind that on Friday, the teams run their own programs. The observable pace seen from these results is likely not representative for the rest of the weekend.
Regardless, the Mercedes seem to have come to Catalonia with an elevated drive and performance.
Considering the layout of the track, we know the race is unlikely to be very entertaining. Mercedes’ performance today would suggest that attention for good racing might be better of directed to positions five and below.