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Lando Norris leads close battle with Max Verstappen in Spanish GP first practice

British driver Lando Norris edged out Max Verstappen in opening practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Norris saw off Red Bull‘s Verstappen by just 0.024 seconds at Barcelona‘s Circuit de Catalunya to raise the prospect of another close duel with the championship leader this weekend.

Home favourite Carlos Sainz took third spot for Ferrari, one place ahead of George Russell, with Lewis Hamilton seventh in the other Mercedes.

Norris has taken four podium finishes in his last five outings, including his maiden win in Miami last month.

The 24-year-old probably should have claimed victory at the rain-hit Canadian Grand Prix earlier this month, but for a poor strategy call by his McLaren team.

And the Bristolian, who said here on Thursday that he believes Verstappen can still be caught following McLaren‘s resurgence, continued his impressive form to top the practice standings.

There will be further encouragement for Mercedes, too, with Russell, three tenths back, setting his best time on the slower medium tyre compound.

Hamilton also failed to use the speediest soft rubber to suggest the Silver Arrows, who impressed in Canada, could be in the mix with Red Bull and McLaren following a string of revisions to their car.

There was a brief red-flag period in the first running when a chunk of Fernando Alonso‘s front wing fell off his Aston Martin after the double world champion thudded the kerb at the ninth corner.

The Spaniard, 42, finished ninth in the standings, nearly one second slower than Norris.

Elsewhere, Sergio Perez and Oscar Piastri were fifth and sixth for Red Bull and McLaren respectively, while British teenager Ollie Bearman ended the session in 19th as he ramps up his preparations for Haas ahead of his likely promotion to a full-time seat with the American outfit next year.

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