Hamilton fastest as Mercedes step up the pace

Overheating problem wrecked Hamilton's race 'from the get-go'

Overheating problem wrecked Hamilton's race 'from the get-go'

Mercedes turned up at the Circuit de Catalunya with a vehicle whose revised features drew appreciative murmurs around the paddock.

Renault was close behind the Red Bulls, seventh-placed Nico Hulkenberg ending the session as the last driver within a second of Hamilton, while Jolyon Palmer was eighth, after stepping aside for Sergey Sirotkin for the morning. "It was massively challenging but still fun nonetheless. There will be upgrades for everybody, and we will be doing work tomorrow to get the vehicle in the right place". I'm not anxious, I'm just not happy with how the day went. Nothing in particular, no single one thing that was bigger than another, that just led us in slightly the wrong direction.

"Coming into this weekend, we have a good understanding of what went wrong", he said, having brought Roscoe into a pre-race news conference where he slept under a table.

There was encouragement too for Red Bull as they seemingly made significant inroads in cutting their deficit to the frontrunners after unleashing an upgraded version of their hitherto-disappointing RB13.

"I think the way (Ferrari) are set up right now, we find ourselves very happy and the focus is on this year despite the fact for next year there is nothing on paper".

"I really enjoyed it out there today so I hope we can squeeze more performance out of the package".

With teams turning up their cars for the afternoon practice session, Mercedes' one second advantage was reduced to 0.3 of a second, with Hamilton leading Bottas, Raikkonen and Vettel.

"Today the conditions seemed to be quite challenging, but we can improve", Vettel insisted.

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"For sure I've always felt comfortable in Sochi, but it's not down just to that".

"I feel good. Obviously today I don't feel so good inside the auto, it was quite slippery but I think it was due to the conditions, I think everybody was struggling a bit".

"I hope it will be".

"Sometimes it was close, sometimes it was too close as well - I remember China past year from my side, that was never ideal - but you try to fight your teammate as well as all the others, but more than anything I think we know and we understand that we're racing for Ferrari".

Last year's victor Dutch teenager Max Verstappen, who triumphed on his debut for Red Bull, was fifth fastest ahead of his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen and his Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg of Renault and Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso.

Fresh from winning the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom two weeks ago, his first F1 victory, Valtteri Bottas is in understandably bullish mood ahead of this week.

Quizzed on his off in FP2, he replied: "I was at full lock in Turn 9 and suddenly a gust caught the rear and forced me off the track and through the gravel, luckily there was not much damage".

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