Today was not an exciting day of free practice on the Spanish circuit of Montmelò, Barcelona; both the first and second sessions have followed the line of dominance of RedBull and Mercedes that has characterized the 2021 season so far.
The first free practice session ended with the Mercedes in first and third position, which saw Valtteri Bottas positioning himself ahead of the other 19 drivers with a time of 1:18.504 and Lewis Hamilton behind him by 0.123secs.
The 7-time world champion, however, finished the FP2 in first position with a time of 1:18.170, ahead of his Finnish teammate, 0.139secs slower.
Hamilton was however surprised by the competitiveness of this year's teams, especially referring to Charles Leclerc's Ferrari, Norris's McLaren and Ocon and Alonso's Alpines.
“It’s amazing to see the progress that Ferrari and McLaren are making, even Alpine. It’s fantastic to see them so strong,” - he said - "That applies pressure to us also, not just to one group.”
After free practice he gave some thoughts about his pace and balance today:
“It’s been a good start to the weekend,” Lewis Hamilton stated.
“The track’s awesome and balance is similar to what we’ve had in the last race. It looks close but looks like we’ve got decent pace today"
“We have to work at it,”- he said - “It never comes that easy and I don’t think with this car it’s ever going to be that case"
“But we understand the car and we know which direction we need to go balance-wise, so we’ve made some tweaks along the way. I don’t know if it got better for this session necessarily but there were some findings there so I’m hoping once we can analyse this session have a better set-up for tomorrow”
Lewis and his team-mate were very close today, probably because of the setup that Mercedes is using on both cars:
“I think this weekend we’re planning to run the same set-up in terms of rear wing and everything,” Valtteri Bottas said after the duo ran different rear wings in Portugal.
“And I think for this track we have a pretty good understanding what should be the optimal for both. So I think from that side it is OK.”
Also the Finn seemed surprised by the excellent performances of the other teams:
“The Ferrari was pretty good today. You never know"
“But I think we should still keep focussing on our performance and trying to get maximum out of the package and hopefully we can be ahead. We just focus on ourself and especially for me personally, focus on my work.” he concluded.