Sebastian Vettel narrowly edged out home favourite Fernando Alonso to set the fastest time in second free practice for the Spanish Grand Prix. Just 0.083 second covered the top three at Barcelona, as Alonso's Ferrari split the Red Bulls of Vettel and Mark Webber.
After an early all-Mercedes battle for the top spot, it was Alonso and the Red Bulls that dominated the lead order through the low-fuel runs. Webber kicked off the dice with a 1m23.112s after 22 minutes, but was deposed by Alonso on a 1m23.030s five minutes later.
When they switched to the softer medium tires shortly afterward, Webber reclaimed first place by 0.2sec over Alonso, before Vettel jumped ahead of them both. Alonso's retaliation managed to get him back in front of Webber, but Vettel remained just out of reach. Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus and Felipe Massa's Ferrari completed the top five.
Lewis Hamilton spun his Mercedes at Turn 11 during the early runs, swiftly rejoining without problems and ultimately taking sixth ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg.
Tire wear was again high and there was a scare at Force India when Paul di Resta's left rear delaminated on the main straight, forcing the Scot to park on the grass. He was still 10th quickest, two places behind team-mate Adrian Sutil. Jean-Eric Vergne split them, in a strong performance for Toro Rosso, which also had Daniel Ricciardo in 11th.
McLaren was only 12th and 13th with Jenson Button and Sergio Perez as it began to evaluate its major upgrade package, including a new front wing.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m22.808s 34
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m22.825s + 0.017s 35
3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m22.891s + 0.083s 36
4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m23.030s + 0.222s 32
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m23.110s + 0.302s 37
6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m23.140s + 0.332s 35
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.398s + 0.590s 45
8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m23.840s + 1.032s 37
9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.058s + 1.250s 31
10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m24.104s + 1.296s 25
11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.175s + 1.367s 32
12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.306s + 1.498s 35
13. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.854s + 2.046s 31
14. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m24.888s + 2.080s 38
15. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.167s + 2.359s 38
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m25.321s + 2.513s 32
17. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.441s + 2.633s 37
18. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m25.851s + 3.043s 35
19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m25.963s + 3.155s 30
20. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m26.078s + 3.270s 31
21. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m26.930s + 4.122s 35
22. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m26.970s + 4.162s 25