The reigning world champion followed up his crushing display to top Friday’s opening session by making it a practice double to head FP2 as he became the first driver to dip into the 1m13s. 

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But the Red Bull driver was only 0.170s clear of Alonso is his upgraded Aston Martin as the Spaniard teased the prospect of another battle with Verstappen in front of his adoring home crowd. 

Nico Hulkenberg produced a brilliant lap to put his Haas just 0.270s off the pace in third, ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez. 

Esteban Ocon continued Alpine’s promising start to the weekend by taking fifth, ahead of the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

Ferrari have brought a revised sidepod and floor edge to Barcelona as part of a significant upgrade package they hope will bring them closer to Red Bull. 

Mercedes struggled for pace despite bringing their heavily-upgraded W14 to Barcelona, with George Russell only eighth-fastest and nearly half a second adrift. 

Lewis Hamilton was a couple of tenths slower in the sister Mercedes as he missed out on the top-10. 

The seven-time world champion wound up 11th behind Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and Pierre Gasly’s Alpine, with less than a second splitting the top-17 runners. 

Russell was left angered by Oscar Piastri after being forced into the Turn 10 gravel as he took evasive action to avoid hitting the McLaren.