Vettel pips Alonso in Barcelona practice

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Sebastian Vettel denied home hero Fernando Alonso a practice double ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Vettel, the reigning triple world champion and current title leader, took full advantage of the warm, dry conditions for FP2 to edge Alonso by just 0.017secs at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.

Alonso spearheaded a one-two after the initial 90-minute session to the delight of his Spanish fans, although conditions were far from ideal.

Steady rain fell prior to the start, turning to drizzle in the early stages, and forced the intermediate tyres to be used for those who bothered to venture out.

The rain eventually relented to offer up a dry-ish line late on and allow the teams to switch to the hard tyre, resulting in considerable improvement in the closing stages.

Alonso ultimately held sway to top the timesheet with a lap of one minute 25.252secs, but on a dry track come the start of the FP2, that was eclipsed almost immediately.

On the medium Pirelli compound, the faster of the two being used for this weekend, Vettel led the way with a 1:22.808secs, with Alonso hot on his heels. Vettel’s Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber was also in close attendance as the 36-year-old Australian was only 0.083secs off the pace.

But there is more to come because to put the times into perspective, come the conclusion to the eight days of testing at this track in late February and early March, Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes was quickest with a 1:20.130secs.

At least the teams were finally able to put the upgrade packages on their cars – as they traditionally possess when the racing returns to Europe – through their paces after failing to gain too many clues from the rain-hit morning session.

With so many new parts on the McLarens, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez managed just six laps apiece in FP1, in contrast to every other driver who achieved double figures. That was primarily due to the fact with pressure sensors on the car to determine the performance of the parts, they could not run for fear of them filling with water and failing to operate.

In a dry FP2, Button and Perez managed 35 and 31 laps respectively as McLaren ran through a number of programmes.