Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fastest in second practice ahead of the Italian Grand Prix. The German was a quarter of a second faster than his teammate Kimi Raikkonen with his title rival Lewis Hamilton third.
The conditions had radically improved from the morning with Vettel gaining time as he pushed hard during his qualifying simulations, but reached the limit when he pushed too hard at the Parabolica when he spun backwards into the gravel.
The session was marked with a high-speed crash right at the start of the session, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had just started his first timed lap as he got onto the breaks going into Variante Goodyear, his DRS failed to close.
That sent the Swede rolling into the barriers and somersaulting down the track. Ericsson escaped uninjured, but replays showed the DRS remained open as he hit the breaks into the braking zone resulting in a loss of downforce. That brought out the red flags, but the Swede walked away without harm.
Hamilton meanwhile was two-tenths off Vettel, while his teammate Valtteri Bottas was a further four tenths behind. This weekend it is expected that Ferrari and Mercedes will hold a slight advantage over Red Bull.
But the advantage that Ferrari have over Mercedes was larger than both teams expected. The gap between Bottas and Vettel was seven tenths, Mercedes know that could pose a big challenge in Singapore and Sochi where its believed that Ferrari will hold the edge.
Max Verstappen was fifth fastest with Daniel Ricciardo sixth, Red Bull expected to be off the pace as so they were a second off Vettel’s outright pace. However, Verstappen was using the B-spec engine despite his teammate using the new C-spec there was a tenth between them.
Red Bull will decide overnight whether to move the Dutchman over to the new spec if he does that would be his final penalty free change of the year.
Force India, who topped the wet FP1 session fell down the order with Esteban Ocon seventh and Sergio Perez ninth. Following his teammates crash Charles Leclerc tested the DRS, however, the issue remained and he returned to the pits. He finished ninth.
Nico Hulkenberg put his Renault tenth fastest, one-tenth off the pace of the Monacan. The Haas of Romain Grosjean was eleventh and his teammate Kevin Magnussen thirteenth, the pair split by the Renault of Carlos Sainz.
After the strong showing in the wet, both Toro Rosso’s dropped down the order Pierre Gasly thirteenth and Brendon Hartley fifteenth, the duo split by the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin.
McLaren had another difficult session, with Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne slowest of those to set a time, the Spaniard lapping 2.636s off the pace.