2014 Spanish GP Practice Two: Lewis Hamilton faster than Nico Rosberg again
Only Ricciardo within a second of Merc; Short-circuited wiring loom sidelines Vettel; Improved pace but mechanical issues for Lotus
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 09/05/14 10:34pm
On-song Lewis Hamilton continued to hold sway in his duel with team-mate Nico Rosberg to set the Practice Two pace in Spain as Mercedes rivals' showed little, if any, evidence to suggest that they have closed the gap to the runaway championship leaders.
For the 17th time in the 30 sessions held so far in 2014, it was Hamilton's name at the head of the timesheet at Barcelona with the Briton's best medium-tyre lap of 1:25.524 a significant four-tenths of a second margin quicker than Rosberg's, the German having returned to the track after completing just nine laps in P1.
"Hamilton is in an absolute different class out there altogether," purred Sky Sports F1 practice co-commentator Anthony Davidson after the Briton's advantage over his team-mate continued into the later race simulations.
Having already topped the weekend's first session following F1's three-week break, Hamilton's status as the bookmakers' favourite to secure a fourth straight race victory - and the championship lead at Rosberg's expense - come Sunday appears to have been vindicated.
What certainly doesn't look in doubt, however, is that the theme at the front of the field from the opening flyways of Hamilton v Rosberg looks poised to continue uninterrupted at Barcelona if the evidence of Friday proves accurate.
Mercedes' would-be challengers have all brought aerodynamic and power unit upgrades to Barcelona, but the nine-tenths of a second gap from Hamilton back to Daniel Ricciardo's third-placed Red Bull suggests that Mercedes' own improvements to the supreme W05 have emphatically cancelled any gains from rivals out.
Adrian Sutil wound up 13th in the light-weight Sauber
With Sebastian Vettel's 2014 troubles already compounded by electrical problems which sidelined him from the second session after just four morning laps, Ricciardo's third place will provide Red Bull, and his team-mate, with plenty of useful data overnight, even if the RB10's continued deficit to the W05 will be of major concern.
Shanghai podium finishers Ferrari, meanwhile, may have finished fourth and fifth on the timesheet with Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen respectively, but the pair trailed Hamilton by over one-and-a-half seconds, a lifetime in F1.
McLaren in turn finished two seconds back on their in-form former driver but the Woking team, pointless in the last two races, appear to have potentially moved up the pecking order at least, after Kevin Magnussen (sixth) and Jenson Button (seventh) outpaced the lead Williams of Felipe Massa (eighth) and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg in 11th.
Lotus too look set to continue their steady improvement as Pastor Maldonado claimed back-to-back top-ten finishes in practice. However, the Enstone team, hobbled up unreliability since testing, were again tripped by problems with the E22 after late gearbox and brake glitches for Maldonado and Romain Grosjean respectively.
In late-session incidents, Jean-Eric Vergne was pitched off the road at Turn One after losing his right-rear wheel following a pitstop, while Marussia's Max Chilton dropped his car into the gravel.