Lewis Hamilton, of course he was, was the fastest in the second practice session of the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix on Friday, and the Mercedes world champion will be the favourite to take pole on Saturday.
Hamilton, who was second in the first free practice session, topped the timesheets with a lap of 1:26.82, which was a shade quicker than the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel (1:27.26). Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg's practice was marred by a reprimand for a pit lane violation, but the German still did enough to clock the third fastest time, ahead of the second Ferrari driven by Kimi Raikkonen.
"It's been a fairly decent day -- mainly working on setup, tweaking the balance bit by bit," Hamilton was quoted as saying by F1's official website. "It's often hard to get a good comparison between the sessions with the track and wind conditions changing.
"The wind was quite strong at times today and really inconsistent around the lap. The car is quite affected by that and it was pretty hot out there in the afternoon too, so I think maybe the temperatures also had an effect on lap times.
"The priority was understanding the tyres and how they wear because, ultimately, the race is the most important part of the weekend. We've not analysed the times yet but our pace felt pretty strong."
Vettel continued to show Ferrari are a force to reckon with for Mercedes this season with a solid practise session, and if the former champion can lock down a front row spot in qualifying, he should be right there competing for the top spot in the podium come raceday on Sunday in Barcelona.
"I think it's quite straightforward that the medium are the faster tyres, but, it was a bit slippery for all the cars," Vettel said. "Grip seems to be very low, nothing abnormal as we've seen it across many years now.
"I think we can improve the cars, but the gap with Mercedes is still there."
Rosberg currently sits second, 27 points behind Hamilton, and the Mercedes man, who also finished runners-up in the driver's standings last season, will want to ensure he picks up his first win this season to avoid falling too far behind his teammate.
"It's great to be back in Europe and back to this track, where we did so many laps in the winter tests," said Rosberg. "I worked a lot on race pace in the afternoon and was happy with my long run, where we seemed to be quicker than the Ferraris.
"On one lap I still have a bit of work to do to find some more speed, so I'll be working hard with the team to find out where I can improve. On track it was quite a difficult day for everyone, I think. The conditions were really strange and the track was very poor. I don't know really why but hopefully it will be more predictable for qualifying and the race."
Spanish Grand Prix qualifying session is scheduled to for a 2 pm local time (1 pm BST, 8 am ET, 5.30 pm IST).
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