RACE DEBRIEF

    Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas headed his second straight session on the Friday of the Portuguese Grand Prix. But the action in Free Practice 2 was dominated by not one but two red flag disruptions – the first after Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri caught fire, while later on in the session, there were incredible scenes as Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll collided spectacularly going into Turn 1.

    Gasly pulled up on the side of the track at the exit of Turn 13 halfway through the hour and a half session, only for the rear of his AlphaTauri AT01 to start spitting flames – with the marshals eventually putting the blaze out after it had been burning for around a minute.

    WATCH: Gasly’s FP2 session brought to a halt after AlphaTauri catches fire out on track

    It was a dramatic moment, but not as dramatic as what happened when the session restarted with 29 minutes left to go. With drivers keen to get their qualifying simulation laps in, Verstappen on his out-lap let Stroll, on a flying lap, through at Turn 14.

    But as Verstappen then tried to out-drag Stroll down the main straight as he began his own flying lap, the pair collided at Turn 1, with Stroll appearing not to register Verstappen’s presence on the inside of the corner – and with the stewards set to investigate the incident.

    Formula 1 Heineken Grande Prémio De Portugal 2020

    Portugal 2020

    Practice 2 results

    POSITION TIME
    1 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes 1:17.940
    2 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing +0.595s
    3 Lando Norris NOR McLaren +0.803s
    4 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari +0.898s
    5 Carlos Sainz SAI McLaren +1.173s

    With the session restarted for the second time with just eight minutes to go, most of the drivers headed back out on the soft tyres, with Bottas failing to improve on his original session-leading time, ending up with a 1m 17.940s, around half a second quicker than his FP1-leading time this morning – while despite his crash, Verstappen was able to finish second, 0.595s adrift of Bottas, but having set his fastest lap on the medium tyre.

    A late effort from McLaren’s Lando Norris saw him pop up into P3, while Charles Leclerc matched his P4 from this morning, to complete an encouraging day for the Scuderia, with Ferrari having brought more updates to the SF1000 this weekend.

    READ MORE: Ferrari targeting top six in qualifying for remainder of season after Portimao upgrades

    Carlos Sainz climbed to P5 near the end of the session in the second McLaren, 1.173s off Bottas’ pace, while Sebastian Vettel was an encouraging sixth, albeit around three-tenths off Leclerc’s pace.

    Gasly’s pre-fire lap time was good enough for P7, as he finished ahead of the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, who didn’t appear happy with the balance on his W11, the six-time World Champion ending up 1.368s adrift of his team mate in P8.

    FP2 Highlights: 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

    The top 10 was rounded out by Renault’s Esteban Ocon and the second Red Bull of Alex Albon, who like many of his rivals, had a number of laps deleted for track limit infringements at Turn 4, only adding to the uncertainty of the picture after Friday’s running.

    George Russell was P11 ahead of the Racing Point of Sergio Perez in P12, while there may be more to come from Daniel Ricciardo, after the Australian was hampered on his penultimate attempt at a flying lap by a Williams exiting the pits, leaving the Nurburgring podium finisher P13, ahead of Nicholas Latifi.

    Rounding out the top 20 came Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen in P15, the Haas of Kevin Magnussen in 16th, AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat – who finished 17th after a spin earlier in the session – with Romain Grosjean, Stroll and Antonio Giovinazzi bringing up the rear.

    READ MORE: Williams? Haas? Red Bull? Where’s Perez’s likely landing spot in 2021?

    The first 30 minutes of Free Practice 2, meanwhile, were utilised by Pirelli for a blind tyre test of the company’s 2021 prototype compounds, meaning there were no meaningful lap times being set – although it did ensure plenty of action, with the likes of Sainz and Perez suffering spins on the experimental rubber.

    So, not the most representative second session of running at Portimao – but that will make the fight in qualifying on Saturday all the more intriguing…