Carlos Sainz topped the second free practice session for the Formula 1 2023 Italian Grand Prix with Lando Norris second, while Max Verstappen was fifth.
Once again, the outcome from FP2 was not really representative, as Verstappen’s best lap was marred by traffic, and couldn’t put in a better lap as the team asked him to pit and set out on long runs on heavy fuel.
However, the Ferraris seem to be quite fast at home so far, especially on one-lap-pace, but still lacking on race pace, if the long runs we saw in FP2 is something to go by. The same old problem for the Scuderia whose SF-23 still has a problem with tyre degradation.
Sergio Perez was third in the #11 Red Bull, his session ending a bit earlier than others after spinning into the gravel trap at parabolica.
McLaren also seem to be quick around The Temple of Speed, evident from Norris second fastest time, while Mercedes seemed to mystery as Lewis Hamilton did not even do a run on Soft tyres, while George Russell was only ninth.
However, it would be unwise to bet against Verstappen turning up the heat come qualifying on Saturday.
Buildup towards FP2
FP1 saw Verstappen top the timing screens having only used one set of the Hard tyres for the full session, as Red Bull – like other teams – tried to save tyres under the “Alternative Tyre Allocation” qualifying format.
The top ten behind the Dutchman included a mix of Ferrari, Mercedes, Aston Martin, and McLaren drivers with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Williams’ Alex Albon crashing the top teams’ party.
While Ferrari seemed to be the fastest of the Red Bull-chasing pack, Aston Martin seemed to be faster than the McLarens and the Mercedes.
But it would be premature to make any judgement as the pecking order was still not clear following what we saw in the first practice and hopefully that would change after FP2 with more running and probably more tyre compounds being used.
Monza FP2 session highlights
The session started in clear conditions with track temperatures registering 36 degrees while the ambient temperatures were in the region of 27 degrees.
Unlike FP1, Alfa Romeo were one of the first teams to send a car out on track, Valtteri Bottas heading straight with the hope of making up for the lost time earlier as issued marred the team’s first practice session.
Lance Stroll, who had to hand his AMR23 over to Felipe Drugovich in FP1 soon parked on the side of the track, reporting total power loss and bringing out the first Red flag of the session and the day.
The team informed the Canadian that they were trying to restart the car remotely hoping it can be driven back to the pits, but their efforts were in vain and the session was over for the Aston Martin driver.
The session was resumed with 50 minutes remaining on the clock, and the cars lined up in the pitlane eager to put some mileage around Monza.
In the meantime, Aston Martin confirmed that the problem with Stroll’s car was down to a fuel system issue.
All the team opted for Hard and Medium compound except for the Williams duo and Alonso in the Aston Martin, who bucked the trend and head out on Soft tyres.
Oscar Piastri had a close moment as Hamilton was running slowly on the racing line through the chicane, the Australian having to run wide to avoid contact, sarcastically saying over the radio: “Nice from Hamilton.”
Stroll’s car was returned back to the Aston Martin garage within the session, as the mechanics set out to investigate the issue.
However the fuel system issued was deemed un-fixable within the session, meaning an early shower for Stroll.
In the meantime, Hamilton was inquiring about his straight-line deficit to his teammate, Russell, the answer from the pit wall being he was down by 5kph.
With the reason behind Hamilton’s deficit being a different setup than Russell, he asked to change it, but was denied as that would compromise his program. Soon after that the seven-time F1 Champion pitted… Will he get his way after all?
Soon the Soft tyre started making a major appearance as both Ferraris, Red Bulls bolting on the red-banded rubber for some qualifying runs.
Sainz had a moment while on a flying lap on Softs, going into Turn 4 and reported a “rear locking” over the team radio.
Verstappen had a bad first run on the Softs, and reported traffic in the middle sector. He said: ” The middle sector was horrible with traffic.”
He then asked his team if he can get another run to have without traffic, but is asked to pit as according to his engineer it “was not qualifying”.
Verstappen claimed he wanted a “proper read” but he most probably just wants to set the fastest time of the session.
Perez also complained about traffic mainly caused by cars trying to follow each other in order to pick up a slip stream.
“We need to be better than this,” the Mexican radioed.
The McLarens seemed to be the fastest cars in the few corners around Monza – Norris then Piastri – with the Red Bull – Perez then Verstappen – behind them as Ferrari’s Sainz followed.
Soon the teams shifted to long runs with both Verstappen and Perez bolting Medium tyres on and heading out with a high fuel load.
Soon Perez had a huge moment at Parabolica, as he ended up in the gravel, suffering rear-wing damage after tough the barrier. The Mexican could not drive out of the gravel trap and the Red flag was out.
The session was resumed with a little over four minutes remaining on the clock.