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    Mercedes Shine in Friday Practice at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

    The opening day of practice at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya saw a strong performance from the Mercedes team, with Lewis Hamilton topping the timesheets in the second session.

    In FP1, the Mercedes drivers opted to focus on the medium and hard compound tyres, while many of their rivals explored the softer rubber. However, Hamilton was able to turn on the style in FP2, setting the fastest time of the day with a 1:13.264.

    “FP1 wasn’t the best session for us but we still learned quite a lot,” said Hamilton. “FP2 was a lot better though and the car was feeling great. We have taken a step forward with the car in recent races and I’m feeling confident heading into qualifying.”

    Mercedes’ strong showing was matched by McLaren, with Lando Norris finishing third in both sessions. The British driver was just over a tenth off Hamilton’s pace in FP2, suggesting the McLaren could be a contender for pole position.

    “A positive day in hot conditions,” said Norris. “It’s super-close, like we’ve seen in the last few weeks, so it’s about the smaller things and trying to get everything together. Tomorrow will be the key.”

    Alpine also had a strong day, with Pierre Gasly fourth fastest in FP2, just 0.179s off Hamilton’s leading time. The French squad appears to have made progress with their latest updates, putting them firmly in the mix at the front of the field.

    “It’s been a positive Friday for us,” said Gasly. “The end result, finishing in fourth place, probably flatters us a bit, but it’s a pleasant surprise and one that brings a smile to my face!”

    Elsewhere, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had a “more normal” Friday, as he described it, with the Dutchman fifth fastest in both sessions. His teammate Sergio Perez, however, struggled for pace and could only manage 13th in FP2.

    With the grid set to be shaken up further by changeable weather conditions expected for the remainder of the weekend, the stage is set for an enthralling Dakar, GT, and British GT battle in Spain.

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