Mercedes followed up on their FP1 one-two as Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheet in the second practice session in Barcelona – but the Red Bull pair led by Daniel Ricciardo were right on his tail. It was a disappointing afternoon for Ferrari, though, with Kimi Raikkonen suffering a suspected power unit problem.
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Hamilton was just 0.133secs quicker than Ricciardo, whose team mate Max Verstappen was just two-tenths behind the Briton in P3. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel won the P4 battle ahead of Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas – the FP1 pacesetter – while Raikkonen was able to set the sixth-quickest lap before limping back to the pits, with the Finn breaking down after taking a trip through the gravel.
Haas enjoyed an impressive session, with Romain Grosjean coming home in P7 just ahead of team mate Kevin Magnussen. Stoffel Vandoorne managed another P9 for McLaren, while Force India’s Sergio Perez completing the top ten.
Following on from an action-packed opening session, Grosjean became the first casualty of FP2, with the Haas driver losing the rear on entering Turn 7 and finding himself helpless in the gravel.
Overall though, the 90 minutes saw most drivers keep out of trouble. One of FP1’s victims, Ricciardo, bounced back to demonstrate Red Bull’s pace, keeping in sight of Hamilton throughout the session.
Verstappen was also able to stay ahead of the Ferrari pair of Vettel and Raikkonen, a reminder that another triumph in Spain could well be within Red Bull’s reach should they avoid a repeat of their Baku collision.
For Ferrari though, they were unable to break into the top two in either session. However Vettel, who lost his world championship lead in Baku, was only three-tenths slower than Hamilton in this session and will be desperate to display his race-winning potential on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Haas will be the happier of the teams in the middle of the pack, and McLaren can take positives from Vandoorne’s top-ten finish, though Fernando Alonso had to settle for a P12.
Force India were right behind Haas, though their session ended on a sour note when Perez was forced to stop with a loose front wheel shortly after a pit stop - the team were subsequently fined €5,000 for an unsafe release. Further down the pack, Renault and Toro Rosso had fairly low-key sessions.
Sauber saw Marcus Ericsson come home in P15 and team mate Charles Leclerc one place behind, but it was another disappointing run out for Williams, who saw Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin finish bottom of the pile.
So, it’s Mercedes who go into Saturday’s sessions as arguaby the happiest of the top three teams. Red Bull showed they should be a real threat this weekend by staying right behind the Silver Arrow of Hamilton - but it seems there's plenty of work to do for Ferrari, especially on Raikkonen’s car.
Saturday should be fun then…