British GP: Verstappen tops FP2 from Leclerc, Sainz
The lack of low-fuel performance running produced a shaken-up order compared to Friday evening’s Q1/Q2/Q3 qualifying, with Lewis Hamilton – who topped the session that sets the grid for Saturday’s spring qualifying race ahead of Verstappen – finishing down in eighth for Mercedes.
The second one-hour practice session took place in hot and sunny conditions at Silverstone, although compared to Friday’s FP1 drivers could not be work on set-ups, with their cars locked into the arrangements the teams selected ahead of Friday qualifying as they remain in parc ferme conditions.
Mick Schumacher led the pack out of Haas when the session got underway, duly setting the first place benchmark at 1m34.017s on the medium tyres.
Esteban Ocon then quickly moved ahead on a 1m32.220s on the softs, with the Alpine driver lead throughout the opening 15 minutes as he worked the fastest time down to a 1m31.878s.
The times were several seconds slower than Hamilton’s fastest time in Friday qualifying, which will not count as an official pole position, as the teams sent their drivers out for long runs on high fuel to gather data ahead of the sprint qualifying and grand prix races.
Sergio Perez replaced Ocon at the head of the timesheets with a 1m31.382s as the opening 15 minutes came to an end, just as Verstappen headed out for the first time.
He appeared on the medium tyres and shot straight to the top of the times on 1m30.428s, before completing a long run that lasted over 15 minutes.
At the end of that stint on the mediums, Verstappen produced a pair of personal bests, which brought the fastest time down to a 1m29.902s that stood as the best lap to the finish of the session.
Verstappen pitted shortly after he set his best time on the mediums, remaining in the garage for another 10 minutes before he reappeared to complete a late stint on the hards.
The Ferrari drivers jumped up the order with just over 20 minutes to go, Charles Leclerc, who at one point slid off into the runoff area beyond Brooklands, leading Carlos Sainz as they ran the medium and soft tyres respectively at this stage of the session.
Ocon ended up fourth ahead of Perez, with McLaren duo Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo sixth and seventh.
Norris lost a pair of times during the second half of the session for running wide at Stowe and Copse in separate moments.
Hamilton’s best time in FP2 – set on the softs – was 1.229-seconds slower than Verstappen’s session-topping effort, with the world champion at one stage asking Mercedes if it was wise to continuing adding mileage to his engine, with the team responding that it was “happy with the PU in this engine mode”.
Valtteri Bottas finished just behind his teammate, with the most high-profile part of his session concerning possible damage Mercedes had detected to his left-rear deflector approaching the halfway stage.
Bottas insisted he had not been running heavily over the kerbs, with the team later suspecting a visor tear-off had become stuck in at that point in the rear of his car and when the Finn next pitted Mercedes inspected his car and one of his tear-offs was indeed removed from his W12.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 10 ahead of Friday qualifying star George Russell, who took 11th for Williams – noting in the early stages that the wind felt stronger compared to the conditions the previous day.
After the chequered flag fell and the drivers completed practice starts on the grid, Bottas spun his car at Village after clattering the kerbs at the tight right-hander on his lap back to the pits.