Spanish GP: Hamilton quickest as big Hartley crash ends FP3

Title favourite Vettel's Ferrari car legal says Marko

Title favourite Vettel's Ferrari car legal says Marko

Valtteri Bottas set the pace with Mercedes in the first practice session for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. We are back in a part of the world where Formula One has real traction and relevance.

Danish driver Kevin Magnussen qualified seventh for Haas, ahead of Spaniards Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz for McLaren and Renault respectively. Alonso often starts well in Spain, and as the only driver on super-softs he should get a better launch from the line than the rest of the top ten.

Australian Ricciardo's auto had some eye-catching aerodynamic upgrades for the start of the European season and ended 0.133 seconds slower after crashing in the morning, while Verstappen was third.

Raikkonen was on a new engine after a problem with the one he used on Friday. "The day was pretty good, but it was a tricky one because it was so windy", Hamilton said. He had to retire and lost a lot of track time. "I dread the thought of a street circuit like we had in Valencia, which wasn't a great street circuit".

"We're back, I have to say", Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda said after the session.

"The Red Bulls are obviously very close to my pace so I think it's going to be relatively close between the top three teams".

The team had to make some modifications to Kubica's auto because the Polish driver doesn't have full movement of his right hand.

Kubica was 19th in 1:21.510, but quicker than his Canadian teenager teammate Lance Stroll who was 20th after a trip into the gravel.

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The virtual safety vehicle was deployed in the morning when Ricciardo's auto ran across the gravel and into the barriers. "It sounds odd that you can be happy with P19, but actually I'm happy".

"You always want to know where you are by going as fast as you can".

The move for change by Ross Brawn - the British engineer now running the sporting side of F1 under Liberty Media's governance - comes a little more than a season after a raft of new regulations were introduced in order to have faster cars and place a greater physical demand on the drivers.

A last gasp run on the harder compound tyres brought Vettel and Raikkonen to the Mercedes drivers but unable leap-frog them.

Romain Grosjean, who crashed under the safety auto in Azerbaijan, was the first to face trouble in the afternoon session, losing control of his Haas and getting stuck on the gravel.

Brendon Hartley of Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean of Haas were among those who went into the gravel in the morning.

The virtual safety auto was deployed briefly, with Ricciardo's vehicle running across the gravel and into the barriers, with several others also spinning.

Sergio Perez had a mechanical issue with Force India and had to retire near the end of the second session.

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