FP2: Hamilton fends off Leclerc to set pace in second Turkish GP practice
Lewis Hamilton continued to set the pace at Istanbul Park, as he posted the fastest time in second practice for the Turkish Grand Prix, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc impressing in second…
The seven-time world champion and championship leader set two laps which were good enough for the top time as he ended the day 0.166s clear of Leclerc, with his main title rival Max Verstappen well adrift 0.635s off the pace.
Hamilton experimented with different approaches to trying to get the best out of the soft tyre on his two low fuel laps. On his first run, he pushed hard in the first sector to go purple but sacrificed time in the second before going quickest again in the third.
After a cool down lap, he took it slightly easier on the softs in the first sector and then went quicker in the next two sectors to improve by a tenth of a second. He’ll need every bit of that pace this weekend, after Mercedes opted to fit a fresh internal combustion engine that triggers a 10-place grid penalty.
Ferrari’s pace in Turkey, where they finished third and fourth last year, has been significant from the off. The Scuderia seem to be able to get heat into their front tyres quickly – hugely important for one-lap pace at Istanbul Park – and it’s why Leclerc was able to finish both Friday sessions inside the top three.
FORMULA 1 ROLEX TURKISH GRAND PRIX 2021
Practice 2 results
|1 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||1:23.804|
|2 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari||+0.166s|
|3 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes||+0.410s|
|4 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing||+0.569s|
|5 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||+0.635s|
There’s more time to come, too, as Leclerc lost the car at the tricky Turn 9 – which caught several drivers out across practice – and had to back out of the lap when his soft tyres were at their freshest.
The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas looked more comfortable in the second session, to go third fastest, the Finn set to play a crucial role in the championship battle this weekend with his team mate starting so far back.
Sergio Perez was the lead Red Bull, the Mexican seemingly able to cope better with a RB16B that looked tricky to handle, especially mid-corner. He was fourth, 0.569s off the pace and a tenth clear of Verstappen.
Lando Norris was a strong seventh, ahead of the Alpine duo of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi closing out the top 10.
Yuki Tsunoda looked all at sea in opening practice, but the team made a host of set-up changes between sessions, and the Japanese looked significantly more comfortable in the afternoon, ending up 11th, just a tenth behind Gasly.
Carlos Sainz had a different focus to everyone else on Friday, the Spaniard already confined to a back-of-the-grid start after Ferrari gave him the upgraded hybrid system that team mate Leclerc ran last time out in Russia. He spent more time on the softs, because he won’t need them for qualifying, before turning his attention to the medium to gather long run data for Sunday’s race.
Lance Stroll, who came close to securing his maiden victory at Turkey last year, was 13th, a fraction ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, with Kimi Raikkonen – who was distracted and agitated by a leaking water bottle – was 15th.
Sebastian Vettel was a lowly 16th, ahead of the Williams duo of Nicholas Latifi and George Russell – who were separated by just 0.051s – with Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin rounding out the classification, Mazepin spinning wildly through Istanbul Park's iconic Turn 8 at the tail-end of the session.