MONTMELO, Spain -- Fernando Alonso closed the gap to Max Verstappen in Friday's second practice session, but the Red Bull driver remained fastest of all with a new lap record of 1:13.907 around the Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya.
Alonso was 0.170s off Verstappen, who led the morning practice session by 0.768s from Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez. Alonso and Verstappen were closely matched around the lap, with Alonso setting a faster time in the modified final sector that no longer features a slow chicane.
The change to the track means it now follows a very similar layout to the one last used 2006 when Fernando Alonso set a pole position time of 1:14.648.
The entire field was closely bunched in Friday's second session, with just 1.149s splitting Verstappen's fastest time and Williams' Alex Albon in 19th. The tight session also threw up some surprises, with Nico Hulkenberg hauling his Haas up to third place, 0.270s off the fastest time.
Perez was fourth fastest, 0.312s off teammate Verstappen, but appeared to have an issue with the floor of his car, which was checked twice by mechanics in the garage.
Esteban Ocon, who secured a podium at the last round in Monaco, continued his strong run of form with the fifth fastest time, 0.335s off Verstappen and ahead of the two Ferraris.
Charles Leclerc slightly edged teammate Carlos Sainz as both drivers ran Ferrari's bodywork upgrade in the second session. The Italian team appeared to be out of sync with the rest of the field, setting its fastest times slightly earlier and creating more time in the session for long runs on heavy fuel.
George Russell was the highest-placed Mercedes driver in eighth place and complained over team radio that his car bottomed out around the lap.
Valtteri Bottas was ninth fastest for Alfa Romeo ahead of the second Alpine of Pierre Gasly and Lewis Hamilton in 11th. Hamilton set the fastest first sector of all on his flying lap, but lost 0.155s relative to Verstappen in sector two and 0.375s in the final sector.