Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the final practice at Monza, a session in which Carlos Sainz brought out the red flags as he speared into the barrier at Ascari.
Saturday’s second and final practice saw the drivers take to the track with the grid already set for Saturday afternoon’s sprint qualifying, and their cars under parc ferme conditions. A strange situation, and one that F1 needs to look into when the bosses sit down to re-evaluate the new sprint qualifying race weekend format.
Mick Schumacher was the first man to go P1 with a 1:27.463, the P1 time down to a 1:23246, set by Hamilton, by the end of the red-flag interrupted session.
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Making a slow start to the final practice session, the Mercedes team-mates and Max Verstappen were some of the last to post times. However, when they did eventually come out to play, they immediately shot up the timesheet.
Verstappen replaced his team-mate Sergio Perez in P1, his 1:23.754 the time to beat when the red flag was shown with 32 minutes on the clock, Carlos Sainz nose first into the barrier at Ascari.
As he accelerated out of the first part of Ascari, he lost the back end of the car and speared directly into the barrier. It was a hard hit, and his third crash in the last four race weekends.
“I had a massive crash,” were his words to Ferrari, the Spaniard groaning before adding “that hurt a bit but I’m okay”.
As Sainz walked back to the Ferrari garage having been “cleared” in the medical centre, his head having shot forward in the impact despite his HANS device, FP2 resumed with 21 minutes on the clock.
Mercedes made it a 1-2 with Lewis Hamilton quickest of all with a 1:23.246, Valtteri Bottas two tenths down, and Verstappen four tenths off the pace.
Perez finished P4 ahead of Esteban Ocon with the Alfa Romeos next in line with Robert Kubica ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi. Fernando Alonso, Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris completed the top ten.
Charles Leclerc, who ran a new old engine, Ferrari changing his power unit overnight following his qualifying engine braking issues, was 11th fastest.
His session ended a few minutes early, the Monégasque driver telling Ferrari: “Guys, I need to stop. I cannot explain it here.” He pitted, his session over.
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:23.246 –
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.222s – soft
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.416s – medium
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull 0.671s – soft
5 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1.017s – soft
6 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo Racing 1.034s – soft
7 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1.256s – soft
8 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1.293s – soft
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.408s – soft
10 Lando Norris McLaren 1.419s – medium
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1.524s – medium
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.528s – medium
13 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1.559s – soft
14 George Russell Williams 1.837s – medium
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 2.176s – medium
16 Nikita Mazepin Haas 2.483s – medium
17 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 2.517s – soft
18 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 2.689s – hard
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 2.766s – medium
20 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 2.878s – medium