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Alonso taking energy from vocal home crowd as he looks to ‘put on a good show’ following P2 in Friday practice

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Fernando Alonso enjoyed a strong start to his home Grand Prix weekend as he placed second to Max Verstappen on the opening day of practice at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, describing FP1 and FP2 as a “productive” pair of sessions.

While Red Bull driver Verstappen produced a record time of 1m 13.907s at the revised circuit, which no longer features a chicane in the final sector, Alonso lingered just 0.170s away in his Aston Martin.

FP2: Verstappen edges out Alonso during second Barcelona practice session

Offering his thoughts at the end of day one, Alonso said: “I think it’s so tight that one or two-tenths will put you in a completely different spot on the classification, so don’t pay too much attention on the times.

“We went through all the programme that we had before the free practice, which is a good thing, learning about the tyres. The track is a little bit slower than what we predicted, so there is still more time to find, more tweaks on the set-ups, but it was a productive Friday.”

Asked if Aston Martin’s latest updates – which include developments around the front and rear wing – are helping him, he commented: “They do, they do. Absolutely.

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Alonso has plenty of support to draw energy from at his home Grand Prix

“There is not a new part that we put in the car that is not helping the performance. That is something that has been always the case with the team from Bahrain. I’m happy with upgrades, and let’s see tomorrow, when everyone goes to full power, where we are.”

As for the support he is receiving from the home fans, many of whom are decked out in Aston Martin green, Alonso made comparisons to his title-winning years with Renault and initial race-winning stint at McLaren in the mid-noughties.

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“Yeah, 67% I heard of the merchandise on the grandstand is green, which is amazing,” he said. “This is going back to the 2005, 2006, 2007 years, where everything was in one colour.

“I really feel that support, that special energy. It was amazing at the fan forum this morning. While driving I cannot hear them, but I feel how enthusiastic they are, so hopefully we put in a good show for them.”

It was a quiet day for the other Aston Martin of Lance Stroll, who wound up 18th on the timesheets – ahead of only Williams drivers Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant – as he struggled to make an impression during his soft tyre runs.

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