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FP2 Report | Mercedes beat Red Bull as Leclerc tops the session

FP2 Report | Mercedes beat Red Bull as Leclerc tops the session

20 May - 17:00
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Charles Leclerc has topped both FP1 and FP2 during the first day of running in Barcelona ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix. Though the main story lies with Mercedes who have improved significantly and seem to have solved porpoising. Both Ferrari and Mercedes finished ahead of Max Verstappen and Red Bull.  

Updates 

Mercedes visited France last week for a filming day, increasing suspicion that they had updates. It seems like those updates have worked, with the car not struggling with porpoising as seen around the world so far in 2022. The Mercedes car looked far more hooked up to the circuit than it has done in the previous five races, and their pace on the soft tyre suggests they're in the mix. 

Both Mercedes drivers managed to beat Verstappen in the standings and split the two Ferrari drivers. There are positives inside the Mercedes garage, but as they themselves have noted on Twitter; it's only practice. 

The Ferrari car looked very strong in the final sector, whilst the first sector falls the way of Red Bull. This correlates with the data we have seen at other tracks this season. It was a poor session for Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. The two McLaren drivers didn't finish higher than 16 place with issues keeping them inside the garage. Alpine look like the best of the rest, with Aston Martin not far behind. 

Aston Martin v Red Bull Racing 

Aston Martin launched their 'B' car which looks remarkably similar to the Red Bull car. During the session, Christian Horner was spotted on the pit wall with a green can of Red Bull. It was confirmed Red Bull have questioned Aston Martin's car, but the FIA believe "legitimate independent" work has been carried out. However, Red Bull are not happy with it. 

In a statement, Red Bull said: "Oracle Red Bull Racing have noted the FIA’s statement with interest. While imitation is the greatest form of flattery, any replication of design would obviously need to comply with the FIA’s rules around Reverse Engineering. However, should any transfer of IP have taken place that would clearly be a breach of regulations and would be a serious concern." 

Aston Martin aren't interested and the team boss: 'We bring upgrades all the time, sometimes more visible than others. We have had a difficult start to the season, but going to Miami we managed to improve the car. This is another step,'' says the Aston Martin team boss. According to the Luxembourger, this was already the planning prior to the season." In FP2, Vettel and Stroll looked on par with the front of the midfield. From their perspective, it looks as if the updates have worked. 

Home favourites 

Given the growth of Formula 1 during this era, record numbers of fans are expected in Barcelona this weekend. 110,000 fans per day are forecast to go through the gates, with the majority of home fans expecting a strong performance from Sainz. The Spaniard has, of course, raced in Spain before but for the first time, he arrives with a Championship competitive car. Two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso also received popular cheers throughout the practice session. 

For the second session in a row, Alonso found himself in the top ten. He finished sixth, just a couple of places behind Sainz who seems to be struggling to match his teammate once again. 

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