He and Leclerc started at a similar pace but Hamilton’s tires lasted much longer and he could keep his pace over a much greater distance, to the extent that about 10 laps into his run, Leclerc was told Hamilton’s lap time, and the Monegasque replied: “No way I can do that.”
Hamilton was also considerably quicker than Vettel when both were running the hard tire on their second race-simulation run.
However, Mercedes believe that Ferrari’s single-lap pace will improve on Saturday when they run their engine in its high-power modes.
Some – but not all – of Bottas ‘deficit was ascribed to a tow Hamilton received from Williams’ Robert Kubica.
Bottas asked over the radio what explained the gap, and was told that as well as the time loss on the straights there “may be something else” to blame as well.
On the radio, his engineer did not explain what that might be .
Verstappen also looked quick at the start of a race run, but his pace also dropped off much more quickly than that of Hamilton’s Mercedes.
Red Bull’s Alexander Albon completed the big three in sixth, but he was just 0. 075 secs quicker than Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was eighth, his team- mate Lando Norris down in 14 th after having his best lap time deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 19.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll and and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi completed the top 10
******** The cold conditions made first practice look like pre-season testing
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