Max Verstappen was the fastest in both practice sessions at the Spanish GP, with Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg following closely. Verstappen’s time of 1:13.907 was the only one to go below 1:14. Alonso was only 0.170s behind Verstappen in qualifying trim, and Hulkenberg was an impressive third for Haas, only two tenths off Verstappen’s lead time. Mercedes was half a second off pace in the upgraded W14. Esteban Ocon was fifth fastest, followed by the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Saturday’s qualifying session could be closely fought, with less than a tenth of a second covering Hulkenberg to Sainz.
Max Verstappen dominates Spanish GP Practice Two
By Jonathan Green
17:40, UK, Friday 02 June 2023
Max Verstappen continued his impressive form at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as he topped the timesheets in both Friday practice sessions ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver was the only one to dip below 1:14 in Practice Two, posting a best time of 1:13.907 to finish ahead of Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg.
After being seven tenths of a second clear of the field in Practice One, Verstappen stretched his legs once again in Practice Two to finish 0.170s ahead of Alonso, who ensured Verstappen’s advantage was smaller in qualifying trim. Aston Martin showed their pace in the afternoon after using the first session to gather data on their upgrades for this weekend.
“Fernando we thought would have his best chance of giving the Red Bulls a go in Monaco, but he’s only a tenth slower here so that’s positive and we potentially have a race on our hands,” said Sky Sports F1’s Naomi Schiff.
Hulkenberg, driving at the Barcelona circuit for the first time since 2019, was a very impressive third for Haas, only two tenths off Verstappen’s lead time and ahead of Sergio Perez in the sister Red Bull.
Esteban Ocon continued his fine form to pick up the fifth fastest time just ahead of the two upgraded Ferraris, with Charles Leclerc sixth and Carlos Sainz seventh. Less than a tenth of a second covered Hulkenberg to Sainz to offer encouragement that Saturday’s qualifying session could be closely fought even if Verstappen looks the man to beat for pole position.
But it was a disappointing day for Mercedes as they remained off the pace, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finishing eighth and ninth respectively. The team brought an upgraded W14 to Barcelona, but they were half a second off Verstappen’s time in Practice Two.
Despite the setback, Hamilton remained optimistic and said, “We’ve got some work to do tonight, but that’s the exciting part. We’ll just keep chipping away at it.”
As the teams prepare for Saturday’s qualifying session, all eyes will be on Verstappen as he looks to secure pole position and extend his lead in the world championship standings. Fans can catch all the action live on Sky Sports F1 with Practice Three starting at 11.30am on Saturday ahead of Qualifying at 3pm.
Meanwhile, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen provided some light-hearted entertainment during Practice Two as he joked with his engineer over team radio after hearing a phone ring. And in a more serious incident, Nico Hulkenberg and Logan Sargeant almost crashed during the session, while Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was afflicted by heavy porpoising.
It promises to be an exciting weekend of racing in Barcelona, and fans will be eagerly anticipating the outcome of Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race.