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Spanish GP: Lewis Hamilton surges to fastest Practice Two time with chasing pack ahead of Red Bull

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and McLaren's Lando Norris separated by just 0.055s at top of Barcelona order; Max Verstappen unhappy with his car in fifth; watch Spanish GP qualifying at 3pm on Saturday, with Sunday's race at 2pm, live on Sky Sports F1

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The best action from Friday's Practice sessions at an eventful Spanish Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton set the pace for Mercedes in a fascinating Practice Two session at the Spanish Grand Prix in which Max Verstappen was only fifth fastest in his Red Bull.

Underlining the growing multi-team competitiveness at the front of the field in F1 on a Barcelona circuit that Verstappen absolutely dominated on last year, Red Bull's big rivals - Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren - finished with one car apiece in a closely-matched top three.

And it was Hamilton, who has endured a difficult season so far and was disappointed with his own performance last time out in Canada when team-mate George Russell took pole and then contended for the win, who posted Friday's quickest lap of 1:13.264.

"P2 felt quite a bit better," said Hamilton, who was only seventh fastest in the earlier opening session. "Made some good changes to the car and I felt great today.

"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."

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Highlights from Friday's Practice One session at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Spain's Carlos Sainz, whose Ferrari team have brought a big car upgrade to this event, was a mere 0.022s adrift in second place with McLaren's Lando Norris, the Practice One pacesetter, only 0.055s off the front himself.

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Verstappen though finished 0.240s back in fifth behind surprise interloper Pierre Gasly, who was fourth on a competitive opening day for Alpine. Esteban Ocon was ninth in their other car.

On his earlier medium-tyre run, Verstappen was heard over Red Bull team radio complaining about his car's balance, particularly at the rear, on a high-speed track where the ability to attack the fast corners is key.

The RB20 then did not show the outright pace of the top three when the field switched down to the soft-tyre runs.

Team-mate Sergio Perez, who carries a three-place grid penalty into Saturday from the last race, was only 13th in the sister car despite completing his soft-tyre run later than everyone else when grip levels should have been more advantageous.

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Toto Wolff shut down rumours about Lewis Hamilton's car supposedly being sabotaged stating that online abuse needs to stop.

Charles Leclerc also experienced a tricky day, finishing sixth fastest in the second Ferrari. Having not run the team's upgrade in the opening session, Leclerc admitted he "didn't put everything together in the second session when he did have the latest package and has "quite a bit of pace to find" for Saturday.

Oscar Piastri was seventh in the second McLaren, while Mercedes' Russell, who had set the earlier pace in the session on the medium compound, was eighth after hitting traffic on his soft-tyre run.

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Lewis Hamilton says the team have learnt a lot from Friday’s practice sessions at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Have hopes grown of a four-way fight in Spain?

With Barcelona's fast and flowing Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya staging the first leg of a triple-header of race weekends, there had been much intrigue heading into the event about whether or not the multi-team fight seen at the unpredictable last race in Canada would continue on a track that should play more to Red Bull's strengths.

Ferrari's Leclerc had predicted on Thursday that the chasing pack would see the "Red Bull we saw at the start of the season back here in Barcelona", when the world champions remained dominant, but that did not turn out to be the case at least on Friday on a warm, sun-kissed day in Montmelo.

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

Not that Verstappen appeared particularly vexed about his day when speaking after the session despite experimenting with set-ups.

"We just tried a few different set-ups out there in FP1 and FP2," he explained.

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"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."

The presence of Alpine's Gasly ahead of him - and indeed the fact that a car that has scored just five points so far this season finished within a quarter of a second of the pace - may put the Practice Two timesheet into a little more context, but there appears no doubt about the growing competitiveness of the F1 field.

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

Norris, who had outpaced Verstappen to lead the Practice One timesheet, was certainly satisfied with McLaren's start.

"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," he said.

"Overall, a good start to the weekend. I felt comfortable with the car since the beginning.

"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."

After teams work to fine tune their cars' set-ups into Saturday, Practice Three takes place at 11.30am ahead of qualifying at 3pm - all live on Sky Sports F1.

Spanish GP Practice Two Timesheet

Driver Team Time
1) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.264
2) Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.022
3) Lando Norris McLaren +0.055
4) Pierre Gasly Alpine +0.179
5) Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.240
6) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.333
7) Oscar Piastri McLaren +0.358
8) George Russell Mercedes +0.458
9) Esteban Ocon Alpine +0.502
10) Valtteri Bottas Sauber +0.660
11) Kevin Magnussen Haas +0.757
12) Nico Hulkenberg Haas +0.789
13) Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.817
14) Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +0.827
15) Yuki Tsunoda RB +0.947
16) Daniel Ricciardo RB +0.993
17) Zhou Guanyu Sauber +1.081
18) Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1.138
19) Alex Albon Williams +1.543
20) Logan Sargeant Williams +1.806

Sky Sports F1's live Spanish GP schedule

Spanish GP

Friday June 21
1.55pm: F3 Qualifying
2.50pm: F2 Qualifying
3.35pm: Spanish GP Practice Two (session starts at 4pm)
5.25pm: F1 Academy Qualifying
6.15pm: The F1 Show

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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