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Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes driver 'feeling great' as four-way Spanish GP fight hopes grow

Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren all showed strong pace on Friday, with a four-team fight for pole brewing in Barcelona; watch every session of Spanish GP live on Sky Sports F1, with qualifying on Saturday at 3pm and race on Sunday at 2pm

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Highlights from Friday's Practice sessions at the Spanish Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton said he "felt great" after he topped second practice at the Spanish Grand Prix on an incredibly tight Friday in Barcelona.

Five different teams filled the top five spots in Practice Two, with Hamilton edging out Ferrari's Carlos Sainz by 0.022s and 0.055s ahead of McLaren's Lando Norris.

Mercedes were in contention for the win last time out in Canada for the first time this year and they have continued their strong form into Spain, a track with a mixture of corners that tests every part of the car.

"P1 was so-so. We learned a lot in that session then P2 felt quite a bit better. Made some good changes to the car and I felt great today," said Hamilton.

"Very hot track, very tough on the tyres, especially on the long run. It doesn't feel like we were too far off. I won't take too much notice of lap times necessarily.

"I think the car is definitely in a better place. I think we have some work to improve it overnight to see if we can hold onto the Red Bulls, Ferraris and McLarens.

"Everyone at the factory has been working so hard, as they are every year. But [we have] more of a north star and a much better understanding of where we want to go with the car and the incremental steps we have been taking."

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Ride on board with Lewis Hamilton as he performs his fastest lap during Friday's practice session at the Spanish Grand Prix

George Russell was eighth quickest and half a second off his Mercedes team-mate, but he has delivered when it mattered most in qualifying this year and is not concerned about the gap to Hamilton.

Russell said Mercedes had the best long run pace, which also bodes well for Sunday's race, but expects Red Bull to improve.

"I am feeling good," he said. "The car is performing well around this circuit. Obviously need to have a closer look at it but Lewis top of the timesheet, really great to see, I felt really strong on the medium tyre.

"Long run in P1, we were up there with the quickest. It is only Friday but it has been a while since we have been consistently at the upper end.

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"I think we were probably quickest in the long run and not as quick in the low fuel qualy pace whereas this afternoon qualy pace looked really strong.

"I am feeling good, feeling excited, this is what we have been chasing for a long time. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves. Lewis did a great job and a great lap.

"We always know come qualifying, the Red Bulls turn it up, Max is going to be on it, the McLarens were fast, Carlos was fast so we will put in a good fight."

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Yuki Tsunoda avoids hitting George Russell during the first practice session at the Spanish Grand Prix

Verstappen not giving anything away

Red Bull were expected to have an advantage at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as the track is more conventional and theoretically plays to the aerodynamic strengths of their car.

However, championship leader Max Verstappen was only fifth in second practice, behind Alpine's Pierre Gasly in fourth.

"We just tried a few different set-ups out there in P1 and P2. The day itself was a bit more normal without any issues. That's what we were hoping for and now it's about trying to tidy up the car a bit," he said.

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Max Verstappen explains Red Bull's upgrades for Spain were small and was happy to have a 'normal session without issues'

Sergio Perez has a three-grid place penalty for the Spanish Grand Prix after driving back to the pits in Canada with a damaged rear wing.

Perez had a difficult Friday as he was fifth and 13th in the two sessions, which suggests Red Bull may only have one car at the front, given his penalty.

"I started the day well but into P2 we made a lot of changes and we lost the track somewhere," said Perez.

"There are many things to analyse. We have done a lot of changes and explored the car quite a bit to pick the right bits going into tomorrow."

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Ferrari and McLaren in the running for pole

Sainz and Norris were in the top three of both of Friday's sessions as Ferrari and McLaren also showed pace.

Ferrari brought a new floor and rear end to this weekend's race, which Sainz says is working well.

"It has been a challenging Friday for everyone because the track was really slippery. It was very difficult to put together laps with the wind and the high track temps so it was honestly a challenge the whole way through," he added.

"It looks like over one lap we are reasonably ok, over a long run we seem to struggle a bit more a bit like we did last year here, so let's see if we can put together a better package especially for Sunday. Over one lap we are fine."

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Bernie Collins and Anthony Davidson discuss Ferrari's upgrades to the car ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc had limited running in the second half of P2 as Ferrari made a big set-up change to his front suspension.

Leclerc was in sixth place at the end of the day and isn't worried about the lost track time.

"In P2, I found the feeling again. I didn't put everything together and still quite a bit of pace to find. Overall, it's a bit of a difficult Friday for me but I know where to find the lap time so I'm not too worried for [Saturday].

"I didn't do the long run that I should have done in FP2 but the few laps we have done there is still plenty to improve. But I have a very clear vision on what we need to do on the car to make it better and I'm confident that [Saturday] will be a step forward."

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McLaren driver Lando Norris reflects on Friday's practice sessions as he looks ahead to race day

McLaren have consistently been in the fight at the front since Norris won his maiden Grand Prix in Miami and this weekend looks to be no different.

Norris says the tyres were overheating quickly due to the warm conditions and expects the close practice to continue into qualifying and the race.

"A pretty good day. Never easy in these hot conditions. It never feels amazing. The tyres overheat very quickly, so it's difficult to get everything in the perfect window. I felt comfortable with the car since the beginning," he said.

"It's close and will be about trying to improve the small things tomorrow because I'm sure it will be close again like it was in Canada. We are trying to improve a bit in every area."

Sky Sports F1's live Spanish GP schedule

Spanish GP

Saturday June 22
9.35am: F3 Sprint
11.15am: Spanish GP Practice Three (session starts at 11.30am)
1.10pm: F2 Sprint
2.10pm: Spanish GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: Spanish GP Qualifying
5pm: F1 Academy Race 1

Sunday June 23
7.45am: F1 Academy Race 2
9am: F3 Feature Race
10.30am: F2 Feature Race
12:30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Spanish GP build-up
4pm: Chequered Flag: Spanish GP reaction

Formula 1 heads back to Europe as the championship moves on to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix and the start of a triple-header. Watch every session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this weekend, live on Sky Sports F1. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership - No contract, cancel anytime

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