Verstappen tops FP2 in Spain for Red Bull ahead of Alonso and Hulkenberg

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Max Verstappen was quickest in a close second practice session in Spain for Red Bull ahead of home hero Fernando Alonso.

German driver Nico Hulkenberg performed admirably in FP2 setting the third quickest time for Haas, just two tenths away from Verstappen, as Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon rounded out the top 5.

At the green light all 20 of the cars joined the circuit at the beginning of the one hour session including the home hero Alonso on the prototype hard tyres.

A number of drivers utilised the testing tyre including Lewis Hamilton as well as Red Bulls reigning world champion Verstappen. Sergio Pérez was also out on it.

Carlos Sainz went to the top of the timesheets on the soft tyre for Ferrari five minutes into the session with a 1:14.999 ahead of his team mate Charles Leclerc.

The altered layout which sees the unpopular chicane in sector three removed in place of two high speed right handers triggered bottoming through the bumps on Turn 14.

Multiple drivers including George Russell complained of the car hitting the ground and being unsettled.

10 minutes into FP2, Leclerc improved improved on his time setting a 1:15.222 and the quickest final sector of the session at the time but failed to usurp his team mate on the soft tyres.

Verstappen switched to the harder medium tyres and impressively bested Sainz’s time by a fractional margin despite his effort being set on less grippy tyres.

Russell got baulked by McLaren’s Oscar Piastri at Turn 10 and harmlessly went through the gravel to continue on his run.

Alonso broke into the top four for Aston Martin, four tenths slower than Verstappen on the medium tyre as Hamilton slotted into ninth place the early stages of the session.

After a brief lull in the session, Sainz improved on his time and set a 1:14.274 before being beaten by his team mate Leclerc after just over 20 minutes completed.

The times continued to tumble as Verstappen set the fastest time and broke the 1:14 barrier with a 1:13.907.

Hulkenberg became the 25-year-olds closest challenger going second fastest ahead of Frenchman Ocon, fresh from his podium last time out in Monaco.

Halfway through the second practice session of the weekend McLaren found themselves in P19 and 20th place in a quiet session for the Woking-based team.

Alonso improved to second place for Aston Martin at a track he’s won at twice in his career, just one tenth of a second behind Verstappen atop the timesheets.

Piastri put in a representative time on the soft tyres on his first visit to Barcelona in an F1 car and set a 1:14.583, a time good enough for P12 just behind Lewis Hamilton.

Lance Stroll endured a lacklustre session and languished down in P18 with a best lap time of 1:15.010 for Aston Martin as his teammate Alonso sat in second place.

Clouds circled over the Circuit De Barcelona-Catalunya but no rain fell on the 4.657km venue apart from some light rain drops at Campsa. Verstappen continued to hold the fastest time with 12 minutes left on the clock.

The 20-car field was incredibly competitive with just 1.5 seconds separating Verstappen in P1 and Williams’ Alex Albon in 20th.

In the closing stages, 19 of the 20 cars were lapping the circuit aside from Albon as the drivers delivered their critical long runs in the second practice session.

FP3 will begin on Saturday morning ahead of the all important qualifying session to set the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.