Outpaced by teammate Valtteri Bottas by 0.2s in the opening session and struggling with the car, Lewis Hamilton hit back in the afternoon as he went 0.2s quicker than the Finn. Most importantly for him is that he felt better in the car in the second session, though.
With a gap of 0.9s to Norris in P3 in FP2, only a reliability problem or a massive error will stop the Mercedes’ annexing the front row tomorrow.
Lewis Hamilton – P1: ‘’The car didn’t feel great in the first session but in the afternoon, it felt like we made some encouraging improvements and it was much better. We have a few more steps to make overnight and then I think it’ll be where it needs to. It’s quite a bumpy track here and with the low downforce, there’s a lot of sliding. You need to find the right balance with the bumps and between the low and high-speed turns. The field is typically a lot closer here, compared to Spa, as it’s such a fast lap and there aren’t many corners. Valtteri’s quick here, too, so it’s going to be a fun battle. It’s going to be interesting in Qualifying, obviously we didn’t get our final lap in last year and I think the last corner will be a bit of a nightmare with everyone trying to get a gap, so it’s going to be hard work.’’
Bottas generally seemed happier with his car today, but he’ll need to be at his absolute best to try and stop his relentless teammate from taking a 94th pole tomorrow. Nonetheless, P1 or P2 seems a certainty by the end of qualifying for the Finn.
Valtteri Bottas – P2: ‘’The car felt pretty good out there throughout the day, but there is always more to come. I’m sure we can still improve it, for example the rear stability was lacking a bit in a few of the corners. My lap in practice two wasn’t great so from my side, there’s quite a bit more to come as well. It’s an unusual track here, quite stop and start, with not so many high-speed corners and traction being very important out of the slow turns. The margins are so fine here and there aren’t many corners to make the difference. I was a little surprised by the lap times and performance compared to the others at this stage in the weekend, but I’m sure every team will find more time and it’ll be closer tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to it.’’