After completing their first laps in Monza in first practice, the drivers began FP2 in search of data and improvements. Ferrari once again showed strong form, with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc both setting fast one-lap times.
Although there is a timid red light trying to come out into the open, Red Bull is still the team to beat. Their pace is phenomenal, albeit without flaw. Perez put the car in the gravel at the end of free practice, whilst Verstappen didn’t seem fully comfortable.
Mercedes and McLaren at the opposite pace compared to what they showed in the morning, the Brackley team in clear difficulty on the fastest lap, while Orange seems to have fine-tuned the set-up, with Norris finishing second just 19 thousandths behind the Spaniard.
FP2: Ferrari and Red Bull fight at the front. Mercedes-powered teams lag behind
The choice of set-up to tackle such a particular circuit in which top speed is the fundamental prerogative for finding performance is the key factor at home for the various teams.
At Red Bull, after experimenting with set-up early on, a more relaxed configuration was pursued, having been tested by Sergio Perez in the morning.
The Maranello-based team chose the single Beam Wing on both cars after having previously tested the double one.
Changes were also made to Lando Norris’ McLaren, having opted for a higher load set-up in practice one. Oscar Piastri also ran different configurations.
FP2 saw most of the pack run medium tyres to simulate Q2 for tomorrow’s qualifying, where the new alternative tyre allocation format will play a role.
After only a few minutes, Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin stopped due to an engine issue, a major inconvenience for the Canadian driver who missed FP1 to make way for Felipe Drugovich.
You have to wait a good 10 minutes due to the red flag before hearing the engines sing again in the temple of speed.
With the medium compound, Ferrari is the master, with Carlos Sainz in splendid form ahead of his teammate and the two Red Bulls and the two Mercedes following in pairs.
To underline the excellent performance provided by the Williams with softs, the FW45 continues to boast impressive top-speed times.
Half an hour before the end of the session, the soft compound was fitted by the Ferraris and the Red Bulls.
However, Ferrari did not gain significant performance by fitting the soft. Carlos Sainz was just 19 thousandths ahead of Lando Norris on this compound.
The Monegasque, fifth, is yet to find the right feeling and maximum performance from his SF-23. Neither of the two Ferraris – but also the Red Bulls – found a great lap on the softs, partly due to traffic.
Perez and Verstappen themselves, third and fifth, respectively, were unsatisfied with their laps.
This is especially true for the Dutchman, who had another awkward exchange with race engineer GP.
In the execution of these fast laps, a consistent theme appeared – slipstream. Christian Horner’s team was among those to test this. The final results leave plenty for interpretation.
The late red flag caused by Perez interrupted most of the long runs.
The Mexican himself had excellent pace, even exceeding that of his teammate in flashes.
Ferrari also seems to be constant and competitive, albeit slightly behind the Milton Keynes team. The Mercedes was tricky to read, lagging behind the very competitive McLarens on low-fuel runs.
FP3 tomorrow will provide more information about the potential of Ferrari and the SF-23.
Author: Luca Vanzini
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang