Hamilton tops charts in Barcelona


And while it looked like the updates Mercedes have brought to Barcelona had improved his auto, teammate Valtteri Bottas set the pace in the morning session, posting a time nearly a second faster than Hamilton.

Max Verstappen ran on mediums but still split the Ferraris while fellow Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo's session was ended early after a crash on Turn Four.

Australian Ricciardo's vehicle 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.

The MCL33 featured a brand-new, radical nose at the Circuit de Catalunya as part of their long scheduled update to try and bring the vehicle closer to competing with the top three teams.

The early part of the sessions was marked by several off-track excursions, with Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, Marcus Ericsson, Brendon Hartley and Romain Grosjean all visiting the gravel traps, fortunately without any outcome.

Bottas was fastest with a lap of 1 minute, 18.148 seconds at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Friday, almost a second quicker than teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was second fastest.

Hamilton has not felt fully comfortable with his auto and knows his championship advantage owes a lot to luck.

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When asked why the conditions were tricky, Hamilton added: "The day was pretty good, but it was a tricky one because it was so windy out there".

Hamilton took over at the top of the drivers' standings following his lucky victory two weeks ago in Baku, but admitted he was struggling for outright speed - a problem he may have done something to rectify with Mercedes upgrades used on Friday. When it is like that you are arriving at each corner and the wind direction is never the same. What that does is it makes it very hard to find where the set-up needs to go. City councillor Ken Russell shared a view of the proposed layout on Twitter that runs around the American Airlines Arena - home of the NBA's Miami Heat - and past the city's Freedom Tower, before going across the harbour and doubling back toward downtown. The MCL33 features a revised nose and front wing, which appeared to offer some improvement with a time 0.359s off Raikkonen.

Vettel said the updates brought by Ferrari to Spain - which included the mounting of the mirrors to the halo and tweaks to the SF71H's floor - all "seemed to work".

The Williams reserve driver was last but one in the running, 1.3secs ahead of his team-mate Lance Stroll.

McLaren unveiled a radical new nose for its 2018 auto in Barcelona.

"Unbelievable how bad the balance is", Stroll complained over the radio.

The Canadian would be back out in the afternoon and would lead teammate Sergey Sirotkin by half a second.