Valtteri Bottas continued Mercedes’ position at the top of the timesheets after posting the quickest lap time in Friday’s second practice session at the Italian Grand Prix.
While the Silver Arrows again locked out the top two positions on the stopwatch – albeit with their drivers swapping positions from FP1 – the Brackley-based squad will be nervously looking over their shoulders once again as chief rivals Ferrari showed improved pace in the session.
Bottas’ fastest lap, a 1:21.406 posted on the Super Soft tyres, was less than six-hundredths of a second quicker than teammate Lewis Hamilton in the final reckoning. Hamilton had led the way in the opening stanza of the session when the team concentrated on Soft tyre running, before the switch to Super Soft rubber later on saw Bottas move ahead.
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel finished third-quickest, just one-tenth of a second behind, although the German’s quickest was curiously allowed to stand despite the Ferrari driver clearly running well beyond the track limits as he exited the Parabolica onto the start/finish straight.
Kimi Räikkönen finished fourth-fastest with his best time coming on his second flying lap on Super Soft rubber.
Continuing the Noah’s Ark theme on the timesheets was Red Bull Racing, which had Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo fifth- and sixth-quickest respectively. The pair was separated by three-tenths of a second, but both will start Sunday’s race well down the order thanks to hefty grid penalties for changing a number of Renault power unit elements.
Verstappen will take a 15-place grid penalty, while his Australian teammate fares worse with a 20-place hit.
Also set to join them at the back of the grid is McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who has a 35-place demotion. Despite his car’s clear horsepower disadvantage, the Spaniard finished an impressive eighth-fastest, one spot behind teammate Stoffel Vandoorne. The pair achieved the strong result thanks to a replication of their tactics in qualifying at last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix – this time each driver took turns providing his teammate with a healthy slipstream to offset their lack of straight-line speed.
The top ten was completed by Force India’s Esteban Ocon and Williams’ Felipe Massa.
The session featured several incidents as drivers explored the circuit’s grip levels, which were reduced thanks to a rain shower between the two practice sessions.
Ricciardo and Williams rookie Lance Stroll both had wild moments at the Ascari chicane, with the latter triggering a a flurry of yellow flags when he spun after clipping the inside kerb too hard. The Canadian teenager finished the session fifteenth-fastest.
Also coming to grief over the kerbs was Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, who had to stop his car on the side of the track – triggering a momentary Virtual Safety Car – after breaking his right-rear suspension when he ran too hard over the exit kerbs at the second Lesmo corner. He was classified 17th-fastest in the session, one spot behind teammate Romain Grosjean.
It proved a tough session for Scuderia Toro Rosso at their home Grand Prix, with both cars forced to stop before the 90-minute session was completed. Carlos Sainz Jr was eleventh-fastest overall, but his running came to a smoky halt when his STR12 started to belch oil as his Renault engine appeared to fail. The Spaniard already has a 10-place grid penalty for swapping to a new MGU-H, and looks set for potentially further drops down the starting grid if forced to take on other new power unit elements.
Teammate Daniil Kvyat only ran on the Soft compound tyres and finished a lowly 18th-fastest ahead of the Saubers, with the Russian called back into the garage in the final minutes when a problem was discovered on his car.
The Renaults improved relative to FP1 with Nico Hülkenberg and Jolyon Palmer finishing 12th and 13th-fastest respectively, although the former had his session cut short thanks to an hydraulics issue in his RS17.
Saturday’s final practice session at Monza will begin at 11:00 local time (GMT +2).
|FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN GRAN PREMIO D’ITALIA 2017 – FREE PRACTICE 2 RESULTS|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Tyre||Laps|
|1.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:21.406||25|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:21.462||24|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:21.546||33|
|4.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:21.804||34|
|5.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:22.409||34|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:22.752||22|
|7.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:22.947||31|
|8.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:22.968||31|
|9.||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:22.977||43|
|10.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:22.985||42|
|11.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:23.150||21|
|12.||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:23.272||14|
|13.||Jolyon Palmer||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:23.317||34|
|14.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:23.352||43|
|15.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:23.403||36|
|16.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:23.567||31|
|17.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:23.650||20|
|18.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:24.253||28|
|19.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:24.894||39|
|20.||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:25.295||25|
Image via LAT Images