RACE DEBRIEF

    Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time in the second practice session of the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix, ahead of AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen in P3.

    With the second session taking place under the lights at Losail, temperatures and therefore conditions were deemed more representative of qualifying and Sunday's race, which will also take place in the evening. After drivers pushed track limits in FP1, the stewards clarified ahead of FP2 that track limits were to be set by the purple and white kerbs across the whole circuit.

    READ MORE: Verstappen heads Gasly in first ever Qatar Grand Prix practice session

    More off-track drama was delivered before FP2 by the tense press conference involving Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff and Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner, during which it was announced that Mercedes' right of review over the Lap 48 incident in Brazil had been denied.

    Back on track, where the Red Bulls and Mercedes began on medium tyres, and the opening exchanges saw Bottas set the benchmark of 1m23.324s, three-tenths ahead of team mate Hamilton. The Finn improved to 1m23.148s (shrugging off a previously deleted lap) when softs became the tyre of choice halfway through, those behind him wrestling with traffic and track limits.

    Gasly slotted into second place, two-tenths off Bottas, for AlphaTauri, while Verstappen was just a tenth-and-a-half away in P3 for Red Bull. That put Hamilton down to P4, four-tenths off his leading team mate, before he ran very wide on a late long-run as the session ticked down.

    FORMULA 1 OOREDOO QATAR GRAND PRIX 2021

    Qatar 2021

    Practice 2 results

    POSITION TIME
    1 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes 1:23.148
    2 Pierre Gasly GAS AlphaTauri +0.209s
    3 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing +0.350s
    4 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes +0.422s
    5 Lando Norris NOR McLaren +0.484s

    Lando Norris was just under half a second off the leading pace in P5 for McLaren, while team mate Daniel Ricciardo was another half a second off in P14.

    Lance Stroll took sixth for Aston Martin ahead of AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda in P7, both drivers threatening to break into the top five throughout the session.

    READ MORE: Qatar Grand Prix – Read the all-new digital race programme here

    That left Sergio Perez eighth, just over six-tenths off P1, the Red Bull driver having aborted a flying lap for traffic before being confined to the garage with a rear wing issue - with the team also seen working on Verstappen's rear wing. In ninth was Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel, who was impeded on a flying lap by both Hamilton and Perez, leaving Carlos Sainz 10th, the Ferrari driver having kicked up a spectacular dust cloud on an early soft-tyred run.

    Charles Leclerc, who ran wide on a late long-run on soft tyres, finished 13th for Ferrari with the Alpines splitting the two Ferraris. Esteban Ocon was 11th and his team mate Fernando Alonso 12th, the pair separated by 0.015s.

    1354228409
    AlphaTauri enjoyed a solid session with Gasly outpacing Verstappen and Tsunoda outpacing Perez

    Fifteenth-place Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen was half a second off Ricciardo ahead, but half a second ahead of team mate Antonio Giovinazzi in P17. Between the Alfa Romeo drivers was 16th-place Williams racer George Russell.

    Nicholas Latifi was two seconds off top spot in P18 for Williams, ahead of the Haas drivers.

    READ MORE: Vasseur explains why Zhou is the ‘right choice’ for Alfa Romeo – and reveals how he and Giovinazzi have cleared the air

    Nikita Mazepin sat out the session having needed a new chassis after hitting the kerbs too hard in FP1 and the Haas driver was 20th by default. Team mate Mick Schumacher was 19th, 2.4s off the pace.

    FP3 follows on Saturday at 1400 local time, before an all-important debut qualifying session at 1700. Find out when to catch it in your time zone here, and stay tuned for up-to-date coverage on F1.com.

    Tap here to subscribe to F1 TV for enhanced race coverage, exclusive shows, archive video and more

    FP2 Highlights: 2021 Qatar Grand Prix