Nico Rosberg edged ahead of the chasing pack in Friday’s second practice for the Spanish GP as Mercedes finally opted for soft tyre runs.
In gusty conditions as grey clouds built up over the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel led the way for the first half of the 90-minute session.
A run from championship leader Rosberg put an end to that.
The German clocked a 1:23.922 to hit the front while his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton slotted into third place. He was 0.719s down.
The team-mates were split by Raikkonen, who was a quarter of a second shy of Rosberg’s time, while Vettel finished fourth.
Behind them Carlos Sainz was best of the rest as the Toro Rosso driver posted a 1:25.131. That put him 0.063s up on Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Fernando Alonso was seventh quickest in an encouraging session for McLaren-Honda while Max Verstappen was P8. The Dutch driver, who was promoted to Red Bull ahead of this weekend’s Spanish GP, was 0.181s slower than Ricciardo.
Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten for Force India.
Practice Two was red flagged after 18 minutes when Jolyon Palmer’s rear left tyre disintegrated.
Coming toward Turn 1, the British racer’s tyre let go with Palmer doing a great job at holding onto the car.
The Virtual Safety Car was shown but with debris on the track it was changed to a red.
It is the second tyre issue for that car in Spain as in FP1 Esteban Ocon suffered a puncture. It also follows on from Renault’s tyre woes in practice for the Chinese GP.
Palmer wasn’t the only one with problems as Jenson Button coasted back into the pits reporting that his engine had “stopped.” He just made it in allowing his mechanics to push him down to the McLaren garage. He was back out on track later in the session and finished P12.
Raikkonen was another to run into trouble as he was told to “slow down, we potentially have a problem.” He was then told that it was a “fuel system problem, box.” Like Button, though, he ventured out again later.
The same could not be said for Esteban Gutierrez who was sidelined with an electrical problem. He covered just nine laps.
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.922 35 laps
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:24.176 0.254 31 laps
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:24.641 0.719 27 laps
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:25.017 1.095 35 laps
5 Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso 1:25.131 1.209 39 laps
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:25.194 1.272 37 laps
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:25.342 1.420 31 laps
8 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:25.375 1.453 31 laps
9 Sergio Perez Force India 1:25.437 1.515 32 laps
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:25.453 1.531 35 laps
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:25.708 1.786 30 laps
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1:25.893 1.971 20 laps
13 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team 1:25.899 1.977 33 laps
14 Kevin Magnussen Renault F1 Team 1:26.244 2.322 40 laps
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:26.375 2.453 44 laps
16 Felipe Massa Williams 1:26.491 2.569 36 laps
17 Jolyon Palmer Renault F1 Team 1:26.770 2.848 16 laps
18 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Racing 1:26.960 3.038 40 laps
19 Rio Haryanto Manor Racing 1:27.252 3.330 39 laps
20 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:27.812 3.890 40 laps
21 Esteban Gutierrez sHaas F1 Team 1:28.205 4.283 9 laps
22 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:28.501 4.579 42 laps
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