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Mercedes in the fight as Leclerc sinks Spanish double

Mercedes in the fight as Leclerc sinks Spanish double

F1 News

Mercedes in the fight as Leclerc sinks Spanish double

Mercedes in the fight as Leclerc sinks Spanish double

F1 championship leader Charles Leclerc completed a practice double on Friday ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix as Mercedes again suggested it is back in the fight.

After topping the timesheet in FP1 with a lap of one minute 19.828s for the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, the Monégasque shaved 0.158s off that time to again lead the way at the end of the second hour-long session.

With team-mate Carlos Sainz fourth fastest on home soil as the Spanish driver seeks to atone for a number of recent incidents, the Scuderia duo sandwiched Mercedes pair George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

With upgrades aplenty on all the cars, Mercedes has also handed its drivers a new power unit for this weekend.

The result is now a W13 not only suffering from considerably less bouncing that has affected it so far this season but it was the quickest along the start-finish straight.

Russell, who had topped the timesheet on Friday afternoon at the last two races in Imola and Miami, was second quickest behind Leclerc by 0.117s, with Hamilton on his tail, a further 0.087s behind.

Reigning champion Max Verstappen had to settle for fifth, 0.336s down, remarkably the exact time he was adrift of Leclerc in FP1.

Alpine duo Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon were sixth and ninth quickest either side of Red Bull's Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel in his Aston Martin.

Perez had given way in FP1 to Red Bull reserve Juri Vips as part of F1's plans to hand young drivers an opportunity in practice sessions from this season, with the Mexican six-tenths back on Verstappen.

Mick Schumacher in his Haas, the only team whose car does not have any updates at this race, rounded out the top 10, with team-mate Kevin Magnussen 12th. Pierre Gasly sat in between the duo in 11th, 1.247s off the pace.

Valtteri Bottas' session lasted just 10 minutes as the Alfa Romeo driver pulled his car off track and onto the grass stating over the team radio: "Something's broke."

With just three laps to his name, Bottas finished 16th on the timesheet with a lap of one minute 21.828s.

For McLaren, following a solid FP1 in which Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo were seventh and ninth quickest, the second session was more problematic.

The MCL36 sports the most comprehensive upgrade package of the 10 teams, with 10 major components changed including wings and the floor, albeit on Norris' car only.

With Ricciardo running the old-spec package for comparison purposes, he could only manage 15th quickest, 1.715s behind Leclerc.

As for Norris, the Briton ran over a kerb early on, leading to damage and a required change that forced him out for the remainder of the session and the ignominy of propping up the timesheet, 3.718s adrift.

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