Valtteri Bottas content with mixed Friday in Spain

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel during practice

This meant that Germany's four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, who trails Briton Hamilton by four points after the opening four races of the season, was pushed down to fourth ahead of Bottas and fellow-Finn Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari.

Bottas said: "It was close, like it has been all week".

"Ferrari was probably sandbagging just because they could, they've always had a very quick auto". "It's a shame it's only four hundredths but for us as a team, ideal result today". "We got through all our running and we were quite fast compared to previous years, but we've still got some work to do overnight". If you win here, you have a good cushion for the next couple of races so for me it's important both Mercedes are there.

Hamilton leads the German, also a four-times world champion, by four points after four races but owes his advantage to a healthy slice of luck.

Most teams brought significant updates to their cars as F1 returned to Europe after races in Australia, Bahrain, China and Azerbaijan.

Vettel concurred with Hamilton, commenting: "I find it a bit comical".

Ricciardo, whose Red Bull featured notable aerodynamic upgrades for the opening round of the European season, was only one-tenth of a session adrift of Hamilton.

Haas maintained their improved performance from practice with Kevin Magnussen the lead midfield runner in seventh.

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Alonso's result marking the first time a McLaren has made the top 10 all season.

Spain's two drivers, Renault's Carlos Sainz and McLaren's Fernando Alonso, were eighth and ninth respectively. We are back in a part of the world where Formula One has real traction and relevance. "So that's a positive thing".

Raikkonen was on a new engine after a problem with the one he used on Friday.

Ferrari caught the eye with wing mirrors mounted on the halo head protection device. The team will likely have to change it for the next race, but no penalties were expected in Spain.

In cooler conditions, the session was brought to an early conclusion when New Zealander Brendon Hartley lost control of his Toro Rosso vehicle at Turn Nine and spun violently into the barriers. He clipped the grass on the entry of a turn and spun into the tire barrier, significantly damaging the vehicle. The rear end fell apart as the auto was being hoisted by a crane.

Race organizers said additional security was implemented after several cars were broken into at a closed parking lot for the media at the track.

Stroll almost hit the tire barriers after going off the track with about a half-hour left in the session.

Vettel agreed, but then with the Saturday sweeties to come, he is never overly troubled by Friday's returns "It has been a tricky day with the tyres".

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