Rosberg lifts Mercedes to P1 in second Spanish GP practice

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Nico Rosberg lifted Mercedes back to the top of the timesheets in second practice for the Spanish Grand Prix on Friday afternoon after Ferrari set the pace earlier in the day.

Rosberg and teammate Lewis Hamilton opted against running on the soft tire in FP1, allowing Sebastian Vettel to head up a one-two finish for Ferrari.

However, Mercedes once again proved its dominance in the second practice session as Rosberg resumed normal service by finishing the session at the head of the field.

A fastest lap of 1:23.922 saw Rosberg finish two-tenths of a second clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen at the end of the session, giving the championship leader a boost heading into Saturday’s qualifying session.

Raikkonen lost a chunk of running in his session due to a fuel system issue, but still managed to edge out Hamilton in the second Mercedes after the Briton hit traffic on his flying lap.

Vettel rounded out the top four for Ferrari, albeit a second down in Rosberg, while Carlos Sainz Jr. continued his impressive start to the weekend by finishing the session fifth-fastest.

Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth for Red Bull, edging out new teammate Max Verstappen by less than two-tenths of a second as the Dutchman slotted into P8 at the end of the session. The pair was split by Fernando Alonso in the McLaren.

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10 for Force India, edging out Valtteri Bottas who led a subdued charge from Williams in 11th.

Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean both recovered from problems to finish 12th and 13th respectively. Button suffered a loss of power on his McLaren when entering the pits, while Grosjean reported that his Haas car was “very, very hard to drive”.

Jolyon Palmer was worst off, though. After sitting out FP1 for Renault reserve driver Esteban Ocon, Palmer suffered a puncture early on in the session that left debris on the track and warranted a red flag stoppage. The Briton got out again before the end of the session, but could only finish 17th-fastest.

On-track action in Barcelona continues on Saturday with FP3 (Live Extra, 5am ET) and qualifying (NBCSN, 8am ET).