Monaco GP FP2: Leclerc shows serious pace

Monaco GP FP2: Leclerc shows serious pace, Hamilton chases

Monaco GP FP2: Leclerc shows serious pace

Charles Leclerc set the pace in the second practice session for the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton was second fastest in the Mercedes.

While Hamilton was the fastest in the first practice session, the seven-time Formula 1 Champion showed that Mercedes might just be able to deliver a decent result this weekend, but as is the case with Mercedes these days, it is better not to hold your breath until qualifying is over.

But the driver that stood out was Leclerc in the Ferrari, the Monegasque consistent and fast regardless of the tyre compound or fuel load and running circles around his rivals.

While Fernando Alonso was third fastest, it remains to be seen whether it was an anomaly as McLaren did not seem to show their hand with Lando Norris fifth fastest, while Oscar Piastri didn’t even bother to use the Soft tyre, running his own program and finishing the session 12th.

Max Verstappen’s struggled continued as he was not happy with his car that seemed to be lacking the front end he needed to make it turn while also struggling with the ride. He was fourth fastest over half a second off the pace.

Red Bull will be burning the midnight oil trackside in Monaco and back in the simulator in Milton Keynes to try and find a solution before the all important qualifying on Saturday.

So to sum things up, Ferrari with Leclerc (Carlos Sainz was sixth) seem to be the favorites while Mercedes’ have surprised up to now. McLaren are there or thereabouts, a question mark around Alonso and Aston, with Red Bull nowhere… Who would’ve thought!

Buildup towards FP2

Hamilton topped the first free practice session in Monaco for Mercedes, while McLaren kept a low key with Ferrari also not showing their true pace with Soft tyre runs.

Red Bull on the other hand seem to be in trouble as they did not hit the ground running with Verstappen clearly not happy with his RB20 and his team still need to dig deep to turn their fortune around before qualifying and the race which seems to be turning into a chronic issue for the reigning F1 Champions.

So with FP2 upon us, it would interesting to see if Mercedes can keep their momentum, or whether Hamilton’s pace was just a fluke as the teams will be running some qualifying simulations.

So will McLaren show their hand? What about Ferrari? And will Red Bull be able to make a step forward?

While rain was expected for FP2, it seems its threat has receded for now with 20% probability of rain fall now predicted, so maybe we will have some meaningful running after all.

FP2 Session Highlights

The session started in clear conditions, barring some clouds here and there. The track temperatures dropped to 32 degrees Celsius (almost 10 degrees) with air temperature at 20 degrees.

For the second session in a row, Hamilton was eager to get out on track as he was the first to park at the pit exit waiting for the green light. He is on Medium tyres.

All the drivers were on the Medium compound except for Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Yuki Tsunoda, and Piastri who started on the Hards.

Soon Sergio Perez was the first to test the limits as his front left tyre hit the barrier ahead of Casino Square, while Norris also lost his McLaren a bit at the swimming pool.

Logan Sargeant soon reports that he hit the wall but seems to keep going, then Tsunoda sends the same message to his pit wall.

Replay showed Sargeant banging the barriers in the final corner, while Tsunoda brushed the barrier at the Swimming Pool chicane.

Lance Stroll also had a close moment with the barriers.

In the meantime Verstappen, Hamilton and Leclerc took turns on the top spot early on, but the times kept dropping as the Ferrari driver won the first round, followed by Hamilton in second and Verstappen in third.

Soon Norris joined and went third fastest. Worth noting the top three were on Mediums but Verstappen was on Hards and was 0.887s off the pace at the moment, 15 minutes into the session.

George Russell reported “insane vibrations” under braking into Turn 11, claiming he cannot hold on to the steering wheel, and replay showed him actually going straight at the chicane. He was soon back in the Mercedes garage for some adjustments.

Matters did not seem to be going well for Verstappen who radios his team saying: “I’m jumping like a kangaroo man, I’m getting headaches, it’s crazy.”

In the meantime, Leclerc in the Ferrari was pounding around his home track and improving his times, showing impressive pace.

Pierre Gasly who suffered from a power unit problem (turbo wastegate issue) in FP1, was trying to make up for that, in FP2.

Halfway through the session and the Soft tyres make their first appearance as the teams start their qualifying simulations.

Perez reports after his first Soft run that the ride of his RB20 is “horrendous” and that he cannot see the apex at Turn 3.

Piastri soon joined the wall-hitting squad and informs his team and goes back to the garage for a quick look and was soon on his way back out. Verstappen also did the same hitting the barriers at Turn 7 going down into the tunnel. Tsunoda as well hit the barrier at Sainte Devote.

Alonso was not amused by Sainz’s tactics in the Ferrari sarcastically saying over the team radio: “I don’t know what Sainz was doing there. He wanted a three-minute gap in Monaco.”

The driver who seemed to be having a good time was Leclerc who was putting in some decent pace lap after lap, miles ahead of the field.

With less than 25 minutes remaining, Leclerc was top of the timing screens putting in consistently fast lap times, purples sectors all over the place.

Verstappen had a moment with Tsunoda at Rascasse and the stewards announced they were looking into a case of potential impeding, but decided not to take it any further.

Esteban Ocon touched the barrier a tad too hard at the exit of the swimming pool chicane and Stroll as well hit the barriers again.

Out of all the teams, VCARB, Stake F1 Team Sauber, and Piastri from McLaren did not run the Soft tyres up to now, while those who did kept focusing on qualifying simulations until ten minutes from the end when the harder compounds were in use again.

Ten minutes from the end, Leclerc brought out a brief Yellow flag, messing up his braking at Sainte Devote on cold Medium tyres and ends up in the run-off area, but no harm done.

Russell’s steering issues continued and asked his team to keep an eye on the steering torque as something weird was happening.

Practice starts were conducted in the end of the session.

How they finished

The time Leclerc set to go fastest in FP2 was a 1:11.278, already faster than Verstappen’s pole time from 2023, a 1:11.365.

Hamilton was two tenths behind in second and 0.287s ahead of Alonso who was third fastest in the Aston Martin.

Verstappen was a worrying 0.535s off the pace in fourth with Norris 0.140s behind him in fifth.

While his teammate topped the session, Sainz was sixth fastest in the sister Ferrari and 0.384s off the benchmark with Stroll 0.1s further down the road in seventh.

Perez was eighth fastest in the #11 Red Bull, over eighth tenths too slow and 0.158s ahead of Alex Albon, ninth in the Williams.

Russell was tenth fastest, with Tsunoda 11th ahead of Piastri in12th.

Monaco GP FP2 Classification