Mercedes edges clear in Monaco, Verstappen hits trouble

Image by Zak Mauger/LAT

Mercedes edges clear in Monaco, Verstappen hits trouble

Formula 1

Mercedes edges clear in Monaco, Verstappen hits trouble


Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were over 0.7s clear of the field in the second free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix as Red Bull suffered reliability issues.

As in the opening session, the two Mercedes drivers were separated by less than 0.1s, but this time there was no Max Verstappen to separate them. Hamilton posted a 1m11.118s to edge out Bottas by 0.081s, and the closest car to them was Sebastian Vettel who was over 0.7s adrift having been a similar margin off the fastest time in FP1.

Verstappen lightly touched the barrier exiting the second part of the Swimming Pool complex and suffered no apparent damage at the time, but he later spent an extended spell in the garage as Red Bull tried to rectify a water leak. Verstappen returned to the track after a radiator change but complained about the handling of his car and did not set a representative low fuel lap time, ending up sixth overall with just 17 laps to his name.

Charles Leclerc similarly did not complete a clean lap in qualifying specification on soft tires, ending up over 1.2s off the pace in 10th place. Leclerc had been the lead Ferrari in the opening session and less than 0.4s from Hamilton, but coupled with Verstappen’s issue FP2 saw neither able to attempt to match that result.

Behind Vettel, Pierre Gasly was fourth fastest but less than 0.1s clear of an impressive performance from Toro Rosso rookie Alexander Albon. With a best lap of 1m12.031s, Albon was within a second of Hamilton and led a group of seven cars — from six different teams — separated by less than 0.4s.

Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Kimi Raikkonen and Leclerc rounded out the top 10, ahead of Romain Grosjean and then the two McLarens.

After McLaren suffered issues with Carlos Sainz’s car in the opening practice session, it was Lando Norris who missed out on track time in FP2, with the team changing the floor after the rookie picked up some damage.

Renault also appeared to struggle a little in the second session as Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo were 16th and 17th respectively, ahead of Lance Stroll and the usual suspects of Williams pair George Russell and Robert Kubica. Russell had one of the more notable offs in the session as he locked up heavily and went straight on at Ste Devote before reversing back onto the track, a mistake also made by Hamilton and Vettel later on.