Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton returned to the top of the timesheets in second Spanish Grand Prix practice on Friday, with the charging Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen hot on his heels.

The Briton, who leads the championship by four points from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel after four long-haul races, lapped the Circuit de Catalunya in one minute 18.259 seconds on the soft tyres.

Australian Ricciardo’s car had some eye-catching aerodynamic upgrades for the start of the European season and ended 0.133 seconds slower after crashing in the morning, while Verstappen was third.

The two Red Bulls collided in Azerbaijan two weekends ago and are under close scrutiny by team bosses who could intervene if their rivalry risks overheating again in Sunday’s race.

Vettel, who will be chasing his fourth successive pole position on Saturday, was fourth and Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas fifth.

Vettel’s team mate Kimi Raikkonen suffered a power unit problem.

Bottas set the day’s overall fastest lap in the opening session with a time of 1:18.148 seconds on the soft tyres, a remarkable 0.849 faster than Hamilton who won from pole in Spain last year.