George Russell was fastest in the second practice session for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver set a 19.457 to put himself ahead of Sergio Perez by eight hundredths of a second with the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc third. Russell topping FP2 shouldn’t be a surprise, with the sprint format this weekend as Mercedes have looked stronger in race trim this season.
Russell will hope the pace shown in FP2 will help him gain positions in the sprint thus allowing him to start the race on Sunday higher on the grid. While that margin to Red Bull is slender Russell was almost three tenths faster than Leclerc, who has looked quick in the opening three races.
Russell’s teammate Lewis Hamilton was fourth, the seven-time champion half a second behind. While Mercedes looks competitive it remains unclear whether Mercedes has resolved the issues which have left them in no man’s land or if it’s circuit and conditions which have brought Mercedes back into play.
Fernando Alonso put his Alpine fifth, the two-time champion has been one of the stars of the sprint format, he was just over eight-hundredths faster than Carlos Sainz. The Ferrari driver will be looking to make up ground after he crashed at the end of Q2 to start the sprint tenth.
Leclerc looked largely to have the car under control, and could be a threat in the sprint after three incredibly close battles with Verstappen, the sprint will see them go head to head for pole.
Verstappen looked to focus his effort on race runs, the Dutchman starts the sprint from pole, but could only managed seventh nine-tenths off Russell. He was ahead of both sister Alpha Tauri’s, Yuki Tsunoda going nearly four hundredths faster than teammate Pierre Gasly.
Second practice was run in dry conditions after a rain-affected qualifying at Imola in Italy. The teams spent the session trialling race set-ups, making the headline lap times unrepresentative. Tyre choice for the sprint could be finely balanced between the mediums and softs.
Alpha Tauri looked to struggle more in qualifying after two competitive weekends at Imola in 2020 and 2021, but they could fight back in this afternoon’s sprint. Gasly was a tenth and a half faster than Guanyu Zhou the Alfa Romeo rounding out the top ten. Alex Albon put his Williams eleventh fastest.
Kevin Magnussen was twelfth fastest, going a tenth and a half quicker than his Haas teammate Mick Schumacher. The two Haas’s were ahead of both Aston Martins with Lance Stroll going over a tenth and a half faster than teammate Sebastian Vettel.
It was a difficult session for both McLaren’s Lando Norris going eighteenth fastest his session being limited by a brake issue. Meanwhile, teammate Daniel Ricciardo failed to get out on track, despite the team’s best efforts they couldn’t resolve to get him on track.