Monaco GP FP2: Max Verstappen tops tight session, Carlos Sainz crashes out

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen during FP2. Monaco GP May 2023.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen rounds the Swimming Pool section in free practice. Monaco May 2023.

Max Verstappen went fastest in FP2 for the Monaco GP, edging clear of both Ferrari drivers, though Carlos Sainz prompted a red flag with a crash late in the session.

Sainz and Charles Leclerc both featured in the top three during the FP2 session, but the Spaniard’s session came to a premature end when he clipped the inside wall at the second apex of the Swimming Pool section, damaging his Ferrari and sending him spearing into the outside barrier on the exit – though he was able to walk away unscathed.

Fernando Alonso ranked fourth for Aston Martin and Lando Norris took an impressive fifth for McLaren in the session, with Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez, Valtteri Bottas, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon rounding out the top 10 – all within seven-tenths of Verstappen’s quickest effort.

The queue at the end of the tight pit lane in Monaco was packed as the session got underway, and the drivers wanted to get out on track as soon as they could to make the most of their time in the session.

And the quickest times were trading between Alonso, Verstappen and Hamilton early on, with Verstappen’s 1:13.857 putting him a tenth clear of the Mercedes driver on the initial medium tyre runs, before Alonso put himself between his two fellow World Champions, just 0.015s behind Verstappen’s benchmark before the Red Bull driver improved to a 1:13.567.

Sainz, who was fastest in FP1, put himself an impressive third on hard tyres followed by team-mate Leclerc in what eventually ended up as a Red Bull one-two in the initial runs, but the true test of one-lap pace would not come until the qualifying simulations with soft tyres on.

The Aston Martin duo were the first out on softs and Alonso was the first driver to dip below the 1:13 barrier this weekend, a 1:12.786 being an improvement of nine-tenths compared to what he managed on medium tyres. recommends

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But backing up his pace from the earlier session, Sainz again jumped ahead of his compatriot with a 1:12.569, a sign that Ferrari appear to be in the mix this weekend.

Verstappen set the fastest first sector of anybody, but weaved his way through slower cars on his fast lap and may have lost a little bit of time in doing so, going third quickest when he crossed the line.

But attempting a second run, the Red Bull driver put himself back to the top of the standings, a 1:12.462 nudging Sainz off P1, before Leclerc put himself between the Dutchman and his Ferrari team-mate.

A reminder of the perils of Monaco was there for Yuki Tsunoda, who clipped the wall on the entry of the Nouvelle Chicane and caused a puncture on his AlphaTauri.

Shortly afterwards, however, Sainz prompted the red flag to be brought out by crashing into the inside wall on the second apex of the Swimming Pool section.

In turning right just a fraction too early, the Spaniard clipped the barrier and was sent into the wall on the exit. He walked away unscathed, though his Ferrari mechanics will have work to do to get his car ready again for Saturday’s running.

The hiatus was relatively brief, though, with 10 minutes of running still available to the drivers before the end of the session.

Alex Albon had just managed to get going in earnest after Williams completed a gearbox change following his troubles in FP1 before the red flag came out, and he was the last to complete a qualifying simulation.

With final laps complete for the day in the Monégasque sunshine, it was Verstappen and Red Bull that flew back to form after a difficult FP1 session by their standards, setting up a tight fight at the top on Saturday at a circuit where qualifying is crucial.

Monaco GP FP2 classification

1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing 1:12.462
2 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.065
3 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.107
4 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.220
5 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.444
6 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.498
7 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.529
8 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +0.588
9 Pierre GASLY Alpine +0.627
10 Esteban OCON Alpine +0.700
11 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +0.723
12 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.729
13 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +0.892
14 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +0.995
15 Nico HULKENBERG Haas F1 Team +1.058
16 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +1.179
17 Nyck DE VRIES AlphaTauri +1.201
18 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +1.211
19 Logan SARGEANT Williams +1.776
20 Alexander ALBON Williams +2.053