Portugal, FP2: Bottas quickest again as FP2 is punctuated by red flags

Verstappen and Stroll crashed together


By Olivier Ferret

23 October 2020 - 17:37
Portugal, FP2: Bottas quickest (...)

Valtttei Bottas continued to set the pace in practice for this weekend’s FIA Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix with the Mercedes driver beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to the top of the FP2 timesheet in a session defined by two red flag spells.

The session began with a 30-minute spell during which teams tested unmarked 13-inch prototype slick tyres for next year, according to a run plan to be defined by Pirelli. The aim of the test was to validate the development of tyres for 2021.

During the test period it was Bottas who went quickest with the Finn setting a best time of 1:21.662, with Leclerc slotting into P2 thanks to a lap of 1m22.043s. Bottas’s time was almost three seconds of the timesheet-topping pace he’d shown on this weekend’s medium tyres in FP1, though fuel loads for the test were unspecified.

With a third of the session run, teams then returned to the work of this weekend and with medium tyres on board Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel soon jumped to the top of the order with a lap of 1:19.936. The German lowered the benchmark to 1:19. 175 but then had a small spin at Turn 14 on his next lap.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took up the challenge and improved to 1:19.033 and then improved to 1:18.535 before Bottas became the first man to move to a qualifying simulation on soft tyres. The red rubber provided immediate reward and the Mercedes man reclaimed top spot with a good lap of 1:17.940.

His was only qualifying simulation for some time, however, as soon after the Finn had set a new target time the red flags were shown when Pierre Gasly pulled over at the side of track with the rear of his AlphaTauri in flames. Running was halted for some 15 minutes as the fire was extinguished and Gasly’s car recovered.

When the action resumed with half an hour left on the clock most drivers returned to the track on soft tyres. Once again though the green light spell was shortlived as just five minutes later Verstappen and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll collided on track and the red flags were once again displayed.

Stroll, just back after testing positive for COVID-19 after the Eifel Grand Prix two weeks ago, was ahead of Verstappen into Turn 1. But amid confusion about the Canadian’s intentions on the lap, the Red Bull driver hit the right-rear of the Canadian’s Racing Point, with the result that Stroll was pitched into the gravel and Verstappen was forced back to the pits. The incident was placed under investigation by the stewards.

The session finally got going again with a little over seven minutes and again a stream of cars headed for the pit exit on soft tyres.

While the top two positions remained unchanged, with Verstappen lapping on mediums again, McLaren’s Lando Norris made the most of the short amount of running to climb to third on the timesheet with a late lap of 1:18.743.

Fourth place went to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with the Monegasque driver just under a tenths of a second behind Norris. Carlos Sainz took fifth place in the second McLaren, 1.1s behind Bottas and Vettel looked more comfortable with his Ferrari than at recent races as he took sixth spot 1.235s behind the pacesetting Mercedes.

The unfortunate Gasly was just three thousandths of a second slower than Vettel in seventh place, while championship leader Lewis Hamilton finished eighth ahead of Renault’s Esteban Ocon and the second Red Bull of Alex Albon.

01 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W11 1:17.940 32
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16 1:18.535 34
03 Lando Norris McLaren Renault MCL35 1:18.743 35
04 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF1000 1:18.838 34
05 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault MCL35 1:19.113 32
06 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari SF1000 1:19.175 34
07 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT01 1:19.178 26
08 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W11 1:19.308 27
09 Esteban Ocon Renault RS20 1:19.496 32
10 Alex Albon Red Bull Honda RB16 1:19.643 37
11 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43 1:19.821 33
12 Sergio Perez Racing Point Mercedes RP20 1:19.901 34
13 Daniel Ricciardo Renault RS20 1:19.987 28
14 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43 1:20.465 33
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39 1:20.490 34
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-20 1:20.680 29
17 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri Honda AT01 1:20.729 33
18 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari VF-20 1:20.867 32
19 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes RP20 1:20.983 26
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39 1:21.396 34

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