Nico Rosberg topped the time-sheets in FP1 and FP2 with a clear-cut advantage over Lewis Hamilton in the sister Mercedes. The gap in FP2 was more significant than it usually is between the Silver Arrows drivers.
Rosberg was 0.394s quicker than Lewis Hamilton. The German looks to have found the sweet-spot with his setup, especially through sector-2. Rosberg was able to hook up the corners neatly and smoothly, whilst Hamilton seemed to be fighting the car more heading into turn-12.
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) July 29, 2016
The regular line-up behind the Mercedes remained consistent too. Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari clocked a time 0.3s faster than both Red Bulls but ultimately 0.5s off the pacesetter’s Mercedes. Verstappen finished the session 4th, marginally ahead of Ricciardo in 5th and Kimi completed the top six with a 1.16.512, nine-tenths adrift of Rosberg.
Whilst Vettel showed that the Ferrari was quick over a single lap, the longer stint runs will be a worry for Scuderia. Tyre degradation saw the times of Vettel and Raikkonen drop off significantly, whilst Red Bull were able to eke out more performance on both compounds.
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) July 29, 2016
These early indicators suggest that Ferrari may out-qualify the Red Bulls tomorrow, but the undercut in the pit-stop will prove to be a very effective option for Ricciardo and Verstappen.
Nico Hulkenberg was best of the rest with 7th in his Force India, they look like points contenders for the race too. Button managed 8th in his McLaren, more evidence of a real step-up in power, but the Brit had to end the session early after a bizarre eye injury. There hasn’t been much information about the extent of the injury, but Vandoorne should iron his racing gloves nonetheless.
Perez had an interesting moment as he danced over the kerbs out of turn-1. His Force India took off momentarily. The floor appeared to take the brunt of the crash landing but the Mexican still managed to finish 9th.
The Toro Rosso’s of Sainz and Kvyat followed. Split by 0.025s, both drivers look tuned in this weekend. A result on Sunday will keep the breathing space to McLaren in the constructors standings.
Overall, the biggest points are at the front of the grid. Rosberg has a much bigger advantage than usual at this point, Hamilton might as well take his double-engine penalty here. The latest Red Bull – Ferrari chapter is showing that Ferrari will suffer with degradation this weekend, and Red Bull really do look to be the favorites to go into the summer break with 2nd in the Constructor standings.
PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION (END OF FP2)
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 29, 2016