Lewis Hamilton believes “the hottest” conditions he has ever experienced in Barcelona will make Formula 1’s Spanish Grand Prix a “killer”, with Mercedes still wary about a repeat of its tyre struggles.

Mercedes suffered a double tyre failure at the British Grand Prix and  struggled with severe blistering throughout the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, opening the door for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to claim a surprise win at Silverstone despite the German manufacturer’s dominant qualifying performance.

Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton each took it in turn to lead the two practice sessions with Mercedes once again dominating the top of the timesheets on Friday as it looks to bounce back from its first defeat of the season.

“It’s definitely quite tough out there, It’s the hottest that it has been,” Hamilton said following Friday practice.

“I don’t think I’ve been to Spain when it’s this hot. We’re here in February and March usually, or early May. It’s beautiful weather but it’s a killer in the car and it’s obviously very tough on tyres as well.

“It’s been a good day - the second session was better for me. The long runs we look very close with the Red Bulls so I think it’s going to be a very close race.”

Asked if he feels the development Mercedes has made since pre-season testing will be masked by the high temperatures, Hamilton replied: “I think the temperature definitely will mask a lot of that.

“The tyres are not happy in these conditions so you’re just sliding around with overheated tyres.”

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin warned the team would be “foolish” not to expect a repeat of the tyre issues it endured last Sunday at Silverstone, but

“I didn’t see any blistering but we didn’t see blistering last Friday either so I really can’t say too much,” Hamilton explained.

“It felt okay, but we’re just about to do the debrief so I’ll find out where we stand in that respect. The long run didn’t look too bad.

“I don’t know how much further we could go as opposed to how much further Red Bull could go compared to us and that will define whether or not it is a one or two stop this weekend.”

Bottas pipped Hamilton to the fastest time as he topped the morning session, before the positions were reversed in the afternoon.

“I didn’t have a bad feeling in the car, struggled with a bit of understeer at the beginning of the session, but that’s normally a quick fix with the car set-up, so it got a lot by the end of FP2,” the Finn said.

“Maybe the morning session was better for me than the afternoon, but we still got good learnings. I think we are quite strong as a team but again, the main thing is Sunday and with these temperatures, how will they hit the tyres given the conditions.

“I think the tyres are wearing in this kind of rough track instead of just blistering, so I think that’s only a good thing for us.”



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