The second practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix saw the top three drivers separated by less than a tenth of a second. The Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were first and third, with Fernando Alonso in between them.
After the damp first practice session the second 90-minute period saw sunshine and warmer temperatures. The teams joined the track en masse as practice began, several drivers using the development hard tyre compound.
The Mercedes pair led the times initially but Lewis Hamilton spun to a stop while trying to better Nico Rosberg’s best effort. He was able to continue, however.
Webber was next to take over at the head of the times. But Alonso had a quicker run through the first sector and carried his advantage through to the end of the lap, edging Webber by less than a tenth of a second.
Webber responded by switching to the medium tyres and all-but matched Alonso in the first sector but going much quicker in the second. He broke through the 83 second barrier with a 1’22.891.
However Vettel found more time with the mediums, pipping his team mate by 0.083s. Alonso improved his first sector time again when he did his first run, but fell just 0.017s short of beating Vettel, splitting the two Red Bulls.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth quickest for Lotus but team mate Romain Grosjean was left shaking his head as he returned to the pits with a time that was only good enough for 18th.
The two Mercedes were behind Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton told their pace was six to seven tenths of a second slower than the likes of Red Bull and Lotus.
Both Force Indias were inside the top ten but Paul di Resta’s session ended when his left-rear tyre appeared to suffer a delamination as he came out of the final corner. He pulled the car up to a safe stop at the pit lane exit.
But Pirelli will surely be concerned about the problem after Massa and Hamilton suffered multiple failures in the previous race weekend.
McLaren also had cause to be worried as neither driver appeared in the top ten times after running their new upgrades.
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