The Losail weekend didn't start on the right foot for Mercedes, at least on the political side. The FIA rejected the request of review for the fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in Brazil, where the race direction didn't open an investigation for what happened in turn 4 on lap 48.
Despite this, things went better for the Brackley team on the performance side: Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time of the day at Losail. The Finn, who scored two consecutive pole position in the last two weekends, could just take the third fastest time in FP1, behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen and an amazing Pierre Gasly in 2nd. As the sun went down, conditions changed over the - dirty - track in Qatar, where Bottas took the best performance of the day, 2 tenths faster than Gasly.
"We’ve started the weekend pretty well with the set-up. The balance felt good, so I only made a few minor tweaks for FP2. That’s an encouraging way to start the weekend at a new track, the team did a really good job with their pre-weekend preparations," said the Finn.
"It’s not far off the sweet spot, obviously there’s always work to do and improvements to find and even with driving, you can’t find all the speed available in just two sessions. We’ll keep on working. It’s hard to draw conclusions from today, practice is practice, but the feeling is okay and that’s promising for the rest of the weekend".
Not an easy day for Lewis Hamilton: the seven time world champion had a "tricky" day in Losail and could only put himself in 4th in both sessions. Surely Mercedes won't stress the Briton's Power Unit too much - in order to make it last easily until Abu Dhabi - but still, Hamilton didn't seem to enjoy Losail very much, but still hopes to find speed before quali.
"It was a tricky day for me, I don’t know exactly how big the gap is, but I’m definitely a bit off the benchmark. This is a new track, it felt okay to drive, quite nice and no real issues, but it’s all high- speed corners so it’s quite physical. We have some speed to find but we completed plenty of laps, so that’s encouraging, and it gives us plenty of data to look into tonight. We’ll see what progress we can make tomorrow".