Imola FP2: Bottas quickest, Verstappen experiences technical issues as Leclerc crashes

Imola FP2: Bottas quickest, Verstappen experiences technical issues as Leclerc crashes

Mercedes topped the second practice at Imola as their close rival Verstappen experienced technical issues that saw him stop the session just ten minutes in leaving Bottas to be 0.010s faster than Hamilton.

Red Bull’s progress was halted on Friday afternoon as Verstappen began lapping at competitive pace, but then crawled to a stop as he said “something broke” 10 minutes into the hour. A brief Virtual Safety Car period followed to recover his car and he ended up 14th fastest.

That left FP1 leader Bottas out front again, his medium-tyred benchmark of 1m15.511s enough to beat soft-tyred Hamilton by 0.010s for FP2 supremacy. Behind them was Pierre Gasly for AlphaTauri, just 0.078s off Bottas’s pace.

Ferrari initially enjoyed their return home as Carlos Sainz finished fourth and Charles Leclerc fifth quickest – until Leclerc crashed to bring out a red flag at the final corner to end the session early with three minutes remaining.

Regardless, Leclerc still finished ahead of sixth-place Red Bull driver Sergio Perez, who shrugged off a collision with Esteban Ocon in FP1 for which there was no penalty from the stewards.

AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda received a new battery and control electronics in his Honda-powered car after FP1 as a precaution, and the rookie finished seventh overall – just 0.008s off Perez.

McLaren’s Lando Norris finished eighth quickest, his team mate Daniel Ricciardo down in 18th as a flying lap of his was deleted for a Turn 9 track limits infringement. Behind Norris was Italian racer Antonio Giovinazzi for Alfa Romeo in P9, his team mate Kimi Raikkonen down in 17th.

Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll finished 10th in FP2 while Sebastian Vettel managed P15, the two split by under four-tenths.

Midfield rivals Alpine have a crucial weekend ahead of them having brought new parts to the Grand Prix in order to try to claw back some performance. Fernando Alonso had a rough ride over the Turn 14 chicane late on, rattling his teeth and potentially damaging the floor of his A521. He finished 13th behind 11th-place team mate Ocon, and between them was Williams’ Nicholas Latifi.

George Russell used hard tyres to finish 16th while his 12th-place team mate Latifi stuck to softs. Russell still managed to finish ahead of Raikkonen, Ricciardo and both Haas drivers in his Williams, after he vowed to make amends for his 2020 crash behind the Safety Car at this venue.

Haas’s Nikita Mazepin spun twice in FP1, crashing out in the final seconds of that session – but returned in FP2 to finish 20th overall, half a second off his 19th-place team mate Mick Schumacher. Mazepin complained he was “absolutely on ice” as he struggled to get hold of his VF-21 throughout Friday’s sessions.

Red Bull’s favourites tag may have been tarnished by Verstappen’s retirement in FP2, but they’ll be back on Saturday for FP3 and qualifying. Don’t miss a minute with F1’s live coverage on Saturday morning, before the fight for pole position in the afternoon.

Leave a Reply