Friday’s second practice session for the Italian Formula 1 Grand was barely two minutes old when the value of the Halo cockpit protection system was once again in evidence. Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson emerged with barely a scratch after suffering an enormous high-speed accident on approach to the Rettifilo chicane when his DRS appeared to jam open.

The Swedish driver’s car veered sharp left as he hit the brakes, sending him nose-first into the barriers before being tipped into a succession of violent sideways rolls. The impact of the accident was registered at 20G and his C37 chassis was a complete write-off, but most importantly the driver emerged with little more than some neck stiffness and a shaking.

The session was stopped for twenty minutes while Ericsson’s car was removed from the track and the nearby barriers could be hastily repaired, and once the action resumed it was the Ferraris who set the pace.

With the afternoon’s drier weather more representative of Sunday’s forecasted track conditions, the teams got down to business to make up for lost time after a wet FP1 session and the stoppage caused by Ericsson’s crash.

Sebastian Vettel, who had managed just four laps in FP1 before striking problems that prompted his Ferrari mechanics to fit a replacement gearbox, enjoyed a more productive session which wasn’t without its own drama. The German edged teammate Kimi Räikkönen to the top of the timesheets by just over a quarter of a second, but later pushed a little too hard as he turned through the Parabolica and spun backwards into the gravel.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H - 2018 Italian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel led teammate Kimi Räikkönen on the time sheets, but later blotted his copybook with a spin at Parabolica.

He slid backwards through the run-off and nudged the barriers with his rear wing, but was able to make it back to the pits for precautionary repairs to his car.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton narrowly trailed the Ferrari duo in third, with teammate Valtteri Bottas a further half-second adrift in the sister Mercedes. The duo spent much of the session running the Soft Pirelli tyre in contrast to Ferrari’s Supersoft mileage, but when they switched to the softest rubber they were still not able to match the ultimate pace of the red cars.

Red Bull Racing was a clear ‘third best’ of the field, with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo separated by less than one-tenth of a second. With their cars needing to run much smaller rear wing plane angles to increase straight-line speed, the RB14 chassis’ lack of grip saw the pair lap over a second off Vettel’s ultimate pace.

Still riding the crest of the wave following their standout Belgian Grand Prix performance, Force India led a tight midfield scrap where the next ten drivers were covered by less than one second on the stopwatch – the two pink cars of Esteban Ocon and FP1 pace-setter Sergio Pérez led the way.

With the Sauber team concerned about Charles Leclerc’s rear wing following Ericsson’s failure, the team took the sensible approach of replacing the part on the Monégasque driver’s car. Leclerc eventually rejoined the action in earnest after a number of false starts and ultimately finished the session an impressive ninth-fastest with Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg placing tenth-quickest.

Saturday’s track action will see the third and final practice session take place at 12:00-13:00 local time (GMT +2), with qualifying starting at 15:00.

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:21.105 27
2. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:21.375 + 0.270 31
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:21.392 + 0.287 31
4. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:21.803 + 0.698 35
5. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB14 1:22.154 + 1.049 28
6. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB14 1:22.296 + 1.191 28
7. Esteban Ocon Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:22.930 + 1.825 30
8. Sergio Pérez Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:22.942 + 1.837 32
9. Charles Leclerc Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:22.965 + 1.860 20
10. Nico Hülkenberg Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:23.063 + 1.958 30
11. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:23.077 + 1.972 31
12. Carlos Sainz Jr Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:23.193 + 2.088 32
13. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:23.233 + 2.128 28
14. Pierre Gasly Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:23.402 + 2.297 34
15. Sergey Sirotkin Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:23.514 + 2.409 28
16. Brendon Hartley Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:23.531 + 2.426 16
17. Lance Stroll Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:23.566 + 2.461 29
18. Fernando Alonso McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:23.741 + 2.636 23
19. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:24.084 + 2.979 30
20. Marcus Ericsson Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 no time 2

Image via Scuderia Ferrari and Sutton Images

The following two tabs change content below.

Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.