Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of the day in practice at the Italian Grand Prix in dry conditions in FP2 after heavy rain affected the morning session.
The Ferrari driver posted a time of 1:21.105 before losing the back end of his car later in the session and hitting the barrier, causing damage to his rear wing.
Force India’s Sergio Perez had topped the leaderboard in a practice session for the first time in his career after FP1, putting in a flying lap late in the session to enjoy the best of the track conditions. Heavy rain, thunder and lightning all hit Monza in the morning before drying out towards the end of FP1.
Kimi Raikkonen ended Friday just behind his teammate, having also been second in the morning session, while Esteban Ocon completed the top three in FP1. Force India continued to show strong pace in the afternoon, ending the session seventh and eighth respectively, around 0.7s behind the Red Bulls.
FP2 was a shorter than expected session as over 20 minutes was lost following a huge crash for Marcus Ericsson. An apparent DRS failure sent the airborne Sauber flying into the barrier, resulting in a big clean up operation and repairs to the barrier. The Swede was able to walk away from the crash and was given the all clear by the medical centre.
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Sauber spent the rest of the session looking at the cause of the crash, sending Charles Leclerc out to test the DRS system further. Despite the team’s concerns over the DRS, the rookie ended the session in the top 10.
Mercedes were just behind the pace of the Ferraris, with just over 0.01s separating Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton, with Valtteri Bottas finishing fourth in FP2. Neither driver saw much action in the wet morning session, with both completing fewer than 10 laps.
Daniel Ricciardo had a difficult start to the day with the new C-Spec Renault engine in his Red Bull. The Australian immediately report a lack of power during his installation lap, but the mechanics were able to fix the fault and get him back out before the end of the session. He and Max Verstappen appear to have the third fastest car after finishing fifth and sixth, but Ricciardo will start at the back of the grid regardless of his pace after changing his engine.
Renault also showed strong pace in both wet and dry conditions, with Nico Hulkenberg in the top 10 in both sessions, while Carlos Sainz was just 0.1s adrift of his teammate in the afternoon. Like Ricciardo, Hulkenberg has a grid penalty for changing his engine and for causing the crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix last week.
It looks like Renault will face stiff competition from Haas, with just 0.15s separating all four cars from the two teams in FP2. Romain Grosjean complained about braking problems in the morning, but he seemed to prefer the balance of the car in the dry.
10 years after securing their only race win in the wet at Monza, Toro Rosso appeared to be enjoying the morning deluge, with Brendon Hartley finishing fourth in FP1, two spots ahead of his teammate. It was Pierre Gasly who had the stronger pace of the two in the afternoon though, although both were towards the back of the pack.
Sergey Sirotkin managed to split the Toro Rosso drivers in the later session, with the Russian just 0.5s outside a place in the top 10. Lance Stroll, who continues to be linked with a move to Force India, was 0.2s behind his teammate, but both Williams drivers were ahead of the McLarens.
McLaren were the slowest cars in FP2, excluding Ericsson who didn’t set a time because of his crash. Stoffel Vandoorne missed the morning while reserve driver Lando Norris has another outing for the team, but the F2 driver missed the end of the session when the track was drying, leaving him at the bottom of the standings. The Belgian was back in the car for FP2, but ended the afternoon almost 3 seconds off the pace of Vettel, while Fernando Alonso was only 0.3s quicker than his teammate, and 0.2s slower than Stroll.