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Verstappen continues to set Barcelona pace


Ahead of today's second practice session the air temperature is 24 degrees C, while the track temperature is 38 degrees. Though sunny there is a 10% chance of rain.

As a reminder, this week's upgrades are a new Floor Edge and Diffuser for Red Bull, Rear Wing, Coke/Engine Cover and Floor Body / Edge for Ferrari and Sidepod Inlet and Diffuser at Mercedes.

McLaren has a new Front Corner and Aston Martin a new Front Wing, Front Wing Endplate, Nose, Rear Wing Endplate and Beam Wing, while AlphaTauri has a new Rear Wing and Rear Wing Endplate and Williams a new Front Wing and Coke/Engine Cover.

There are no new components for Aline, Alfa Romeo or Haas.

Worryingly, Leclerc, running the old-spec car was quicker than his teammate who had the latest upgrades, while the Mercedes pair, who admittedly spent much of the morning running the prototype tyres, could only manage 10th and 12th.

Still, with this session taking place in conditions more akin to qualifying and the race, perhaps the teams holding back.

Someone who wasn't holding back was Verstappen who was quickest by 0.768s.

Interestingly, both Alpines were in the top five, as was de Vries, with Magnussen also looking good.

Local hero Alonso ended the morning sixth quickest.

One surprising aspect of this morning's session was the return of porpoising, for that is the word that Norris used, certainly a number of drivers complained of bouncing in the final corner.

The lights go green and once again Alonso leads the way, followed by Bottas, Zhou, Ocon and Tsunoda. Once again, as more drivers pour on to the track most are running the prototype hard.

Of the first wave, Sainz goes quickest (14.999) ahead of his teammate, though both are on softs, indeed the only drivers on softs.

Verstappen goes third on the prototypes, ahead of Ocon, Hulkenberg, Magnussen and Norris.

Russell is already complaining of bottoming.

Norris improves with a 15.926 on the mediums, ahead of Ocon who is on hards.

Leclerc closes to within 0.223 of his teammate, as the Bulls switch from the prototype tyres to mediums.

On the mediums Verstappen posts a 14.968, putting 0.031s between himself and soft-shod Sainz.

In his attempt to avoid a very slow Piastri on the racing line, Russell goes off and into the gravel at T10.

As Alonso goes fourth (15.373) on the mediums, Hamilton (also mediums) goes tenth (16.010).

Both Aston Martins, by the way, are running the new front wing.

Tsunoda goes sixth (15.632) on the mediums.

After20 minutes, almost everyone is on the yellow-banded rubber, the exceptions being the Ferraris (softs) and Alpines (hards).

"Can you check the floor, I lost a lot of rear on that lap," reports Sainz. Despite that he goes quickest with a 14.274, though moments later Leclerc stops the clock at 14.246.

Sargeant (softs) improves to sixth with a 15.415. Shortly after, Bottas goes fourth (14.448) and Albon fifth.

Verstappen crosses the line at 13.907, the Dutchman on softs, while Hulkenberg goes second and Ocon third.

Russell and Hamilton both bolt on the softs. The seven-time champ goes eighth with a 14.549, while Russell crosses the line at 14.392 to go sixth.

Norris, currently nineteenth, one place ahead of his teammate, heads out on the softs.

De Vries goes 12th and his teammate 13th.

Alonso goes second, just 0.170s off Verstappen's pace, while Norris can only manage 12th (14.694).

Hamilton is told that his biggest losses are Turns 10 and 12.

Now Piastri switches to the softs, the Australian posting a 14.583 to go 11th, just ahead of hic McLaren teammate.

"Why is it so nervous? My traction is so bad," reports Tsunoda.

By the way, the Bulls and Norris have taken on new powerunits.

As the race sims get underway, Verstappen is told he will be doing nine timed laps, he answers: "Someone's phone is going, is it Helmut's?" "Yes," he is told.

Despite running the softs, Stroll cannot improve on 18th, his best time (15.010), a full second off his teammate's pace.

Once again it is the Williams pair that are propping up the timesheet.

"There's a lot of clouds at Turn 3," reports Gasly though he is assured that there is no rain showing on the radar.

"Some very light rain drops around Turn 9," reports Russell.

With 10 minutes remaining, all bar Sainz are on track.

Replay shows Sainz' Ferrari porpoising in the final corner, As Hulkenberg and Sargeant almost trip up over one another as the American appears unsure of precisely what he's doing.

When he questions why he has been told to "box" with three minutes remaining, Ocon is told to stay out. "Deployment is all over the place," he subsequently reports.

The session ends. Verstappen is quickest, ahead of Alonso, Hulkenberg, Perez, Ocon, Leclerc, Sainz, Russell, Bottas and Gasly.

Hamilton is eleventh, ahead of Piastri, Zhou, Norris, Magnussen, de Vries, Tsunoda, Stroll, Albon and Sargeant.

Thankfully, the gap has closed somewhat since this morning, however it is not Ferrari and Mercedes that have closed it so much as Alonso, Hulkenberg and Ocon, two of whom come fresh from the podium in Monaco.

Both Mercedes and Ferrari clearly have work to do, as do McLaren and indeed Williams.

Check out our Friday gallery from Barcelona here.


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