ITALIAN GP – Charles Leclerc six hundredths faster than Lewis Hamilton in FP2, but gap between top two unclear

Testing & Race Reports

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc topped the times by six-hundredths of a second after outpacing Mercedes Lewis Hamilton in second practice for the Italian Grand Prix.

The Ferrari set a 20.978 in a busy first half an hour because of the threat of rain, that put him fastest on the medium tyres allowing him to go two tenths faster than teammate Sebastian Vettel. Mercedes Valtteri Bottas was fourth fastest three and a half tenths down. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fifth two tenths ahead of Alex Albon.

The mixed conditions meant very different run plans, thus times are not directly comparable. Ferrari and Red Bull chose to do their qualifying simulation laps early in the session before the first rain shower, Mercedes preferring to wait until it had passed.

That also affected the race runs, but it looks as if Mercedes appeared to have an advantage but on which Ferrari may have been affected by a damper track for the start of their runs. But Hamilton’s improvement to second late on was good given it was on a drying track and allowed him to split the Ferrari’s.

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was fourth, three tenths off the pace after being slower in all three sectors. But the Finn was a hundredth faster than the Red Bull’s of Max Verstappen and Alex Albon, but the Dutchman’s has a back-of-the-grid start penalty thanks to taking the spec-four Honda engine.

He was three tenths off the pace despite the team reckoning he was losing a second on the straights. However, he also lost time on his quickest lap in the first sector then had to abort his second attempt thanks to the rain coming.

Alex Albon, who served his grid penalty last weekend so already has the latest engine available, was two tenths slower in sixth place. It was also a good session for Pierre Gasly who was seventh, ahead of Haas’s Romain Grosjean, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Daniil Kvyat.

The session was red-flagged thirty-six minutes in, to allow gravel to be cleared from the track at the second chicane. The session was resumed after a stoppage of nine minutes some cars did soon return to the track led by Grosjean.

The second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg missed out on the top ten by seven-hundredths of a second. But the German was a tenth ahead of the McLaren of Carlos Sainz, who set his best time on mediums.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, who clipped a piece of pit equipment as he left for one of his runs, was thirteenth fastest and a hundredth quicker than Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen.

The Finn having an off through the Goodyear Chicane early on but stayed ahead of teammate Antonio Giovinazzi. Giovinazzi was pushed down the order after the two Racing Points, Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll. The Canadian was one of only four drivers to set an improved time after the rain.

Robert Kubica was faster than George Russell for a Williams team who expect Monza to be one of their weakest circuits.



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