Lewis Hamilton offered up hope Red Bull will not have it all their own way in this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
At one stage in second practice there was every sign a walkover was on the cards as Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were in a league of their own.
As soon as reigning champion Vettel switched to the softer, faster tyre midway through the 90-minute session at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, he blitzed the field and led by two seconds.
Within a few minutes team-mate Webber , last year’s race winner, responded. He ousted the young German from top spot by a third of a second, staying top with a lap of one minute 22.470secs, 2.7secs quicker than his timesheet-topping lap in first practice.
Mercifully, with a raft of new upgrades on the car following their relatively poor showing in the last race in Turkey, McLaren partly showed their hand and suggested we may have a battle on the cards on Sunday.
Hamilton managed to split the Red Bulls, finishing just 0.039secs behind Webber and over three tenths of a second ahead of Vettel.
The trio were handsomely clear of Jenson Button in his McLaren who finished 0.718secs off Webber’s pace, with no other driver within a second of the Australian such was his pace and that of Hamilton.
As this is Friday practice, you know there is plenty more to come from both the leading teams, hopefully so from McLaren if they are to make a fight of it in qualifying and the race.
Vettel has so far dominated, claiming three wins and a second from his 100% record of four consecutive poles to start the season.
On home soil, and with a new multi-million pound, five-year deal in his pocket, Fernando Alonso was fifth quickest in his Ferarri.
The double world champion finished 1.098secs behind Webber, with Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg just 0.018secs adrift of the 29-year-old Spaniard.
Their team-mates, Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa, were sixth and seventh, albeit with the seven-times champion in his Mercedes 1.5secs down and the Brazilian 1.8secs adrift.
The Sauber duo of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez figured strongly in ninth and 11th, sandwiching Renault’s Nick Heidfeld, whose team-mate Vitaly Petrov was 12th.
After making way for reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg in FP1, Force India’s Paul di Resta finished down in 17th, arguably disappointing given the supposed improvement to the car for this weekend.
The Scot, however, was at least a second and two places quicker than team-mate Adrian Sutil.
At the foot of the times, and separated by just 0.007secs were Hispania Racing duo Narain Karthikeyan and Vitantonio Liuzzi.