The Dutchman doesn’t want to answer after day one whether he will be able to fight back after losing Brazil in the third race of the season: “It’s still a little early for that. We have to look at a lot of things first because everything is so new here. Today it was especially important to understand how the car reacts, “explains Verstappen, who was waved off in third place in the end.
World Cup rival Lewis Hamilton, who is 0.422 seconds short of the Bottas best time, ranks one position behind. “I don’t know how big the gap is, but I’m behind. I’m definitely not close today,” explains Hamilton, who already complained about problems in the first practice session and is still struggling with the new course in Losail – unlike his stable mate Bottas : “That was an ideal start to the weekend on a new track. We started with a very good set-up and didn’t have to change much after that,” says the Finn.
When looking at the long runs on Friday, Bottas stands out in particular: Mercedes’ number two driver, with average times of 1: 27.6 minutes on the medium tire, shows significantly better pace than Hamilton and Verstappen (both 1st place) even after nine laps : 28.2 min.) On the red softs. Despite fewer laps unwound (Hamilton: six; Verstappen: four), the times on the soft tires drop significantly earlier.
For the teams, especially due to the lack of comparative data at the Qatar premiere, this is important information with a view to the racing strategy: “The tires overheat here quickly. It is very difficult to follow the man in front in the race,” explains former world champion Damon Hill , who concluded after the training impressions: “I don’t really see how you want to overtake here. It will be much more difficult than last time in Brazil.”
Sebastian Vettel and his Aston Martin team are also experiencing an upswing in the second training session. The German finished ninth, team-mate Lance Stroll even made it to sixth position. However, the traffic causes displeasure and annoyed hand signals at Vettel: First, the Heppenheim world champion Hamilton stands in the narrow infield, then Red Bull driver Perez.
Formula 1 Grand Prix of Qatar – 2nd free practice:
2. Pierre Gasly (France) – Alpha Tauri +0.209 sec.
3. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) – Red Bull +0.350
4. Lewis Hamilton (UK) – Mercedes +0.422
5. Lando Norris (UK) – McLaren +0.484
6. Lance Stroll (Canada) – Aston Martin +0.557
7. Yuki Tsunoda (Japan) – Alpha Tauri +0.587
8. Sergio Perez (Mexico) – Red Bull +0.639
9. Sebastian Vettel (Heppenheim) – Aston Martin +0.872
10. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spain) – Ferrari +0.885
11. Esteban Ocon (France) – Alpine +0.893
12. Fernando Alonso (Spain) – Alpine +0.908
13. Charles Leclerc (Monaco) – Ferrari +0.947
14. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) – McLaren +0.987
15. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) – Alfa Romeo +1.483
16. George Russell (Great Britain) – Williams +1,806
17. Antonio Giovinazzi (Italy) – Alfa Romeo +1.924
18. Nicholas Latifi (Canada) – Williams +2,061
19. Mick Schumacher (Gland / Switzerland) – Haas +2,427
20. Nikita Mazepin (Russia) – Haas – no time