Lewis Hamilton quickest in practice for Spanish Grand Prix

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland steers his car during the third practice session for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo Spain Saturday
Lewis Hamilton quickest in practice for Spanish Grand Prix
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13 May, 2017

All teams know the track well, as it is also used for the pre-season tests.

The ledger shows each team with two wins - Ferrari in Australia and Bahrain, Mercedes in China and Russian Federation - and the championship tables show Sebastian Vettel ahead by 13 points and Mercedes in front by just one.

"Ferrari is competitive again and is feared by our rivals", Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne recently told analysts.

Hamilton, who clocked his fastest lap of one minute and 21.521 seconds, was almost 0.029 seconds faster than Bottas, Sport24 reported.

Looking ahead to the race, Vettel says there is work to do for Ferrari to get the best from the tyres, hinting there could be options with regards to strategy come Sunday. We find ourselves in a very good position and that's what we want to keep. "We are here to win, to do our best, but we can still learn and improve".

Buoyed by his first Grand Prix pole and then first win over the last two race weekends, Bottas arrives at Barcelona in strong form and believes the fight for the 2017 title could still be considered a four-way fight, including him and countryman Raikkonen.

"It's basically a token of time, you put it on the vehicle and you get that extra tenth or two, whatever it is usually, and that's what we're seeing today".

"We had a chat", he said.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland rear steers his car during the third practice session for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo Spain Saturday
Lewis Hamilton quickest in practice for Spanish Grand Prix

"This inter-team battle is a totally different situation that what we have seen over the last three years", Wolff said. "If you look race by race, and overall, they've been dominant and it's hard to beat that, but we're doing our best".

But that does not mean much as the teams, all with upgraded packages, begin the European season with Ferrari likely to set the pace if the weather conditions put the onus on tyre management.

Last year's Spanish GP victor Max Verstappen was again ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo, a tenth up on the Aussie and 0.636s off Hamilton's lap.

"I hope tomorrow, whoever that was, will disappear...."

"It was an incredible feeling once I passed the finish line, especially in your first race with a new team".

While Mercedes has brought a visually different front end to its auto in Spain, Vettel is unfazed by the scale of the upgrades seen on other cars and is confident with Ferrari's development work. Red Bull is thought to be bringing further updates throughout the weekend, so judging the success of the so-called B-spec RB13 on FP1 pace alone would probably be a bit premature.

"I think coming into this weekend we have a good understanding what went wrong on our side of the garage", Hamilton said.

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