Same circuit. Same weather conditions (more or less). Same riders (more or less). Same bikes (more or less). So why do we even need practice? Why not just skip all of Friday and go straight into qualifying on Saturday?
Compare the combined standings at the end of the first day of the Spanish and Andalusian Grand Prix.
Just five of the 22 entries are within one position of their place in the combined standings of both FP1 and FP2 at the end of Friday: Maverick Viñales, 2nd-1st last week and this, Jack Miller 6th-7th, Fabio Quartararo 15th-14th, Pecco Bagnaia 18th-17th, Tito Rabat 19th-18th.
The rest of the field varies wildly. Discounting the walking wounded – Marc Márquez, who didn’t ride, Cal Crutchlow, and Alex Rins – riders are five, even ten positions further up or further down the order at the end of Friday practice.
Franco Morbidelli was 12th last week, 4th this week. Andrea Dovizioso was 4th last week, 10th this week. Valentino Rossi was 13th last week, 2nd today.
Rossi may be one of the few exceptions, in that he has made significant improvements since last weekend, though more of that later. For the most part, the difference is not necessarily of speed, but of strategy.
With a weekend of practice and racing under their belt, most teams and riders already have a clear idea of where they stand in terms of setup, and so are working on minor changes in pursuit of a few more tenths.
There was a lot more work on race setup, and a lot less on chasing a quick lap for Q2. Q2 can wait until Saturday morning.