Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg set the pace in Friday’s practice for the Spanish Grand Prix that could take the Mercedes driver to his eighth win in a row.
While the German had no problems to report, his three-times world champion teammate and closest rival Lewis Hamilton complained about his car’s handling after ending third-fastest.
Rosberg, who could become only the third driver to win the first five races of a season on Sunday, after compatriot Michael Schumacher and Britain’s Nigel Mansell, led the way with a time of one minute 23.922 seconds.
“I feel very comfortable with the car, with some new parts added and they seemed to have worked well,” said Rosberg.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the morning session in 1:23.951 and fourth in the second.
Both Germans were well inside Rosberg’s 2015 pole position time of 1:24.681.
Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest, 0.254 adrift of Rosberg in the afternoon, with Hamilton fourth in the morning.
“That wasn’t an easy day for me, I struggled with the car balance through the day and this afternoon in particular it felt really tricky to drive,” Hamilton said.
“The lap times don’t tell the full story, but it’s clear we have plenty of work to do this evening to get the car driving like I want it to.”
Hamilton is 43 points behind Rosberg in the standings after power unit failures in the last two race weekends that sent him to the back of the field in China and to 10th on the starting grid in Russia.
Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth in the morning session, and sixth in the afternoon, while his Red Bull teammate Dutch teenager Max Verstappen was sixth and eighth on his practice debut.