Leclerc edges Hamilton by 0.068s in FP2

Image by Glenn Dunbar/LAT

Leclerc edges Hamilton by 0.068s in FP2

Formula 1

Leclerc edges Hamilton by 0.068s in FP2

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Charles Leclerc remained fastest during second practice for the Italian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton just 0.068s adrift in another rain-affected session.

Following a first practice that saw three red flag periods and a number of spins in wet conditions, the second session also saw a brief stoppage due to light rain but all running was carried out on slick tires. Just like FP1, Leclerc set the pace, this time with a 1m20.978s but he was closely followed by Hamilton as Mercedes and Ferrari appeared closely matched at this stage of the weekend.

Early running in FP2 gave way to a break when rain started to fall, and the marshals took the opportunity to red flag the session and clean the track of gravel after Daniel Ricciardo had run slightly wide at the second chicane. The best conditions were seen at the end of the session, but teams took the opportunity to carry out as much long running as possible given the lack of dry track time earlier in the day.

Behind Leclerc and Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel was just 0.2s off the pace in third place on a track where Ferrari has introduced an updated power unit. Valtteri Bottas was fourth — 0.369s adrift of Leclerc — with Max Verstappen only 0.003s slower than the second Mercedes in fifth place.

Alex Albon rounded out the top six, although he was 0.6s off Leclerc and spent the session switching helmets between his usual design and a plain white version in what appeared to be a test of any aerodynamic impact of different manufacturers.

It was an encouraging day for the Honda-powered cars as Pierre Gasly was seventh fastest for Toro Rosso — although both he and Verstappen will start from the back of the grid due to power unit penalties — and Daniil Kvyat was tenth, separated by Romain Grosjean and Ricciardo.

Although a number of drivers went off at the heaviest braking point on the circuit at Turn 1, there were very few incidents compared to FP1 when Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez crashed. Both drivers were back in action in the second session and finished 14th and 16th respectively.

Lando Norris — already starting from the back of the grid alongside Verstappen and Gasly — suffered an oil leak that confined him to the garage for much of the session, catching up on some running in the final 20 minutes as he ended up 18th fastest ahead of the two Williams drivers.

 

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