Valtteri Bottas was fastest in second practice for the Tuscan Grand Prix going two tenths faster than his teammate Lewis Hamilton. The Finn set his fastest time on the soft tyre to go faster, he will be looking to build on that through the weekend as he looks to slow down Hamilton’s charge to the title.
Red Bull emerged as Mercedes biggest challengers, Max Verstappen going four hundredths slower than Hamilton’s Mercedes. However, it will be expected to widen going into qualifying and the quick runs were interrupted by red flags.
The second Red Bull of Alex Albon was fourth fastest although the British-Thai driver was seven-tenths behind his teammate. Renault continued their strong run of results with Daniel Ricciardo going fifth fastest.
The top four were the only drivers to get under the 1:18s bracket during the qualifying simulation runs, after which the rest of FP2 was dedicated to long-run data gathering as per usual.
The drama began halfway through the session when Lando Norris began his flying lap and Sergio Perez was exiting the pits. Norris then suffered a moment of oversteer at Poggio Secco, putting a wheel onto the gravel, that caused the car to snap left speared into the wall on the outside, knocking off his front wing.
The incident is under investigation.
The session resumed after a nearly 10-minute delay for this incident, after which Norris did not return to the track. The incident brought to an end the flying laps and teams switched to long runs. It was a strong afternoon for Renault, Ricciardo fifth going eight-hundredths ahead of teammate Esteban Ocon.
However, Mugello lived up to its billing as one of the fastest and most demanding circuits on this year’s calendar. Drivers were easily managing speeds of 170mph on qualifying simulations through the Arrabbiata’s, which could be flat out in qualifying.
Hamilton told reporters, “I love it, it’s fast. It’s a real challenge. I’m not that great at it yet – still working at it. (Arrabbiata) almost feels like Turkey, the double-left hander there, or triple whatever it is. It’s incredibly fast through Six, Seven, Eight, Nine. It’s pretty intense. It’s amazing to experience it.”
“It’s a very serious track. You don’t go lower than fourth gear. It is so quick and there is not a lot of run-off area, particularly through Eight and Nine. The speeds we’re going; I’m just praying the tyres to hold together and everyone stays safe.”
Perez had to settle for seventh, ahead of Pierre Gasly, Kimi Raikkonen and Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari driver had a spin early in the session at Correntaio in the opening half an hour, things didn’t get much better for teammate Sebastian Vettel.
The four-time champion pirouetted just past the one-hour mark as he also suddenly lost the rear of his car, sliding sideways across the inside of Biondetti 1 before carrying on. Then at the end of the session, his car stopped at Biondetti 2.
Pierre Gasly continued his decent start to the weekend, fresh from his win at Monza the Frenchman was eighth fastest and a half a second faster than teammate Daniil Kvyat, in fifteenth.
Kimi Raikkonen was ninth fastest going two and a half hundredths faster than Leclerc, the highest placed Ferrari powered car. Lance Stroll managed to spilt the two Ferrari’s in eleventh.
Norris couldn’t improve his pace finishing the session down in fourteenth, he was almost eight-tenths of teammate Carlos Sainz. A surprising low key afternoon for McLaren who have been in the top ten regularly this season.
George Russell was sixteenth, again the Williams driver showing that he has pace and getting the most out of the car, he was almost a tenth and a half quicker than teammate Nicolas Latifi in eighteenth. The two Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were nineteenth and twentieth
Mugello is seeming to provide us with the pecking order we expected, and the surprise being Renault. Mercedes were always going to be the team to beat this weekend given the type of circuit it was on paper, Red Bull are close. However recent history suggests that gap will grow in qualifying tomorrow.
Bottas outpaced Hamilton in both practice sessions he will be hoping that he can keep that through the rest of the weekend to start any resurgence in the championship. The big question is how does this play out in qualifying and the race, normally Hamilton tends to come back stronger on Saturday.
Ferrari appears still to be struggling with a performance which means they are not going to be fighting near Red Bull and Mercedes. McLaren is also slightly underperforming, but we are at a new circuit and we could see them come back in qualifying.
You need to believe that qualifying the battle in the midfield will be close again as we have seen in recent weeks.