Spanish GP 2017

MAY 12, 2017

Practice 1 Report - Adding insult to injury

Lewis Hamilton, Spanish GP 2017
© The Cahier Archive


By Dan Knutson in Barcelona

The news that Mercedes topped yet another practice session - in this case Free Practice 1 for the Spanish Grand Prix - wasn't particularly unpredictable. Equally predictable, sadly, was another embarrassing engine blow up for Honda. Adding insult to injury, it happened to Fernando Alonso at his home track.

The lineup for the weekend was: Mercedes - Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas; Red Bull TAG Heuer - Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen; Ferrari - Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen; Force India Mercedes - Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon; Williams Mercedes - Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll; McLaren Honda - Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne; Renault - Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer; Toro Rosso Renault - Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz; Haas Ferrari - Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; Sauber Ferrari - Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.

Sergey Sirotkin drove Palmer's Renault in FP1.

Vettel was the first driver out on the 2.892-mile (4.655 km) 16-turn Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Centigrade).

"There is absolutely no grip," Magnussen radioed in to the Haas pit.

All the teams had upgraded cars for this, the first European race of the season.

"Hopefully our updates will bring us a little bit more to the front," said last year's winner Verstappen, "but I think in every area we can always improve so I think that's what we are aiming to do with the car. You see a few differences on the car and hopefully we can close the gap a little bit here already and then go on from there."

Hometown hero Alonso was only on his second lap when he spun off at Turn 2 with smoke and liquid pouring from the engine bay.

"Engine problem," he reported.

More liquid poured from the car as it was taken away by the tow truck. The frustrating times continue for Alonso, Honda and McLaren.

Only a few drivers clocked times in the first 20 minutes with Massa on top at 1:25.894.

Vettel was the next to strike trouble. He pulled off the straight and parked the Ferrari at pit exit and radioed that something was broken in the gearbox. The marshals pushed the car back into the pits to be collected by the Ferrari crew.

As speed ramped up, Russian Grand Prix winner Bottas turned a 1:25.027, and Raikkonen beat that with a 1:24.691. Hamilton topped that with a 1:23.637. Bottas responded with a 1:23.614. All were on the hard compound Pirellis.

Just before the 40-minute break, when the drivers have to return one set of tires to Pirelli, Hamilton sneaked in a 1;23.531. The top 10 were: Hamilton, Bottas, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Ocon, Perez, Magnussen, Grosjean, Hulkenberg and Massa.

Raikkonen had clocked the fastest time at the circuit in preseason testing - 1:18.634 - which was set using the super soft Pirellis.

The drivers switched to the medium compound slicks as FP1 action resumed. Verstappen immediately got down to a 1:22.706 as Vettel headed out in the repaired Ferrari.

Hamilton then clocked a 1:21.521 and Bottas a 1:21.550. They were a second quicker than the Ferraris of Raikkonen and Vettel who were third and fourth.

The session wound down with the drivers doing long runs while frustrated Alonso, who felt sorry for the fans, did no running at all.

The top 10 were: Hamilton, Bottas, Raikkonen, Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Magnussen (who pulled off the track in the closing minutes), Grosjean, Hulkenberg and Sainz.