Mercedes was once again head and shoulders above the field in Friday’s second practice session at Monza, with Lewis Hamilton taking over the top spot from Valtteri Bottas.
The six-time world champion was 0.262s clear of his teammate, while a later effort on low fuel by Lando Norris slotted the McLaren driver into third, almost nine tenths behind the afternoon’s pace-setter.
In fourth place, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly continued to impress, the Frenchman edging Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Italian Grand Prix Free Practice 2 – Results
Friday afternoon’s action at Monza resumed under the sunny skies, with air temperatures pushed up to 26°C while track temps were at 42°C.
The only noticeable difference from FP1 was the return to the cockpit of George Russell at Williams.
Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen put the first time on the board, but the Finn was quickly overhauled by Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, the Canadian relinquishing the spot to the in-form Pierre Gasly, perhaps a man to watch this weekend.
Meanwhile, Russell was on the radio complaining about slow laps by drivers. “There’s going to be a shunt with all this at some point. F****** nightmare,” quipped the Briton.
Over twenty minutes in, Hamilton signed in with a succession of fast laps on the medium tyre, the best of which was a 1m20.645s that put him comfortably ahead, with teammate Bottas overt three tenths behind.
Worth noting were a number of race control notifications on the screens related to drivers showing FIA race director Michael Masi how to exceed track limits despite the latter’s zero tolerance for such transgressions.
Behind the Mercedes duo, Gasly stood around half a second behind, edging a tight group of cars that included Verstappen, Sainz, Kvyat, Stroll and Leclerc.
Up ahead, Hamilton extended his advantage by lowering his best to 1m20.192s, with Bottas still in tow.
Making up the rear at that point was McLaren’s Lando Norris who was seen traveling in and out of the garage as the Briton dealt with an apparent engine issue.
As the session entered its final thirty minutes, and many drivers switched to race runs, more good efforts went wasted as Russell and Albon exceeded track limits at the final corner.
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Speaking of wasted runs, Vettel had a spectacular spin on the exit of the second Lesmo, the Ferrari’s rear-wing just brushing the inside wall, and seriously flat-spotting its tyres.
Minutes later, Leclerc almost emulated his teammate’s off-track excursion at exactly the same spot, the Monegasque stating the obvious, telling his team: “The car is so hard to drive”.
With less than ten minutes remaining on the clock, Gasly ran wide at the first chicane while on an out lap, inciting the Frenchman to return immediately to the pits.
Whatever issues plagued Norris’ in the early part of the session were put to rest when the McLaren charger put in a 1m21.089s flyer on the soft tyre that propped him all the way up to third, a little under a second from Hamilton.
To be fair however, Norris’ relative performance reflected a likely low-fuel load and a track that had been properly rubbered in, but it was still a good performance from the 20-year-old.
The session therefore concluded with Hamilton and Bottas still in charge followed by a trio of youngsters – Norris, Gasly and Verstappen.
Close behind followed Sainz, Kvyat, Stroll, Leclerc and Perez. So a slight improvement for the House of Maranello, and for Vettel who finished FP12.
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