Lewis Hamilton topped timings in the second practice session ahead of Sunday's Spanish GP but failed to beat Valtteri Bottas' benchmark from the morning in Barcelona.
The world champion posted a 1m18.259s on the Soft compound tyre, less than a tenth shy of his Mercedes teammate as drivers struggled to extract a full lap of performance from the Supersoft rubber during the usual qualifying-style simulation.
Daniel Ricciardo was also on the yellow-striped tyre in second, finishing just over a tenth behind Hamilton with the second Red Bull of Max Verstappen the top driver on the Supersoft in third.
Ferrari's subdued day continued with Sebastian Vettel in fourth, but Kimi Raikkonen would see his day ended early after an engine problem saw the Finn coast back to the pits.
The final half of the session was handed to a race simulation to give the teams idea of the likely tyre and fuel performance.
Here the Supersoft again struggled but it was Red Bull enjoying the best pace and managing better durability than Mercedes perhaps opening up some interesting strategy options for Sunday.
Ferrari do appear to be lagging behind their top three rivals but many believe they are simply hiding their true pace.
In the midfield, Haas emerged as the fourth best team with Romain Grosjean recovering from a spin into the gravel at Turn 7 early to head back out and post the seventh best time.
Teammate Kevin Magnussen, who was reprimanded for an incident with Charles Leclerc in FP1, was just behind in eighth.
Stoffel Vandoorne offered hope that McLaren could make their first Q3 appearance of the year in ninth as Sergio Perez completed the top 10 for Force India.
Those in need of improvement ahead of qualifying include Fernando Alonso in 12th, with the Spaniard three-tenths behind his teammate, and Renault as once again Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz were well down on their expected positions in 13th and 17th respectively.
Sauber look to have made some progress with their upgrades for this race as Marcus Ericsson led Leclerc by just 0.013s in 15th and 16th.
But problems continue at Williams as they once again brought up the field with Lance Stroll three-tenths behind the next best car of Brendon Hartley and Sergey Sirotkin a further half a second back after completing all his running on the Supersoft tyre.
Full standings can be seen below:
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