Friday’s second hour-long session at Imola featured a number of unusual developments, as Mercedes drivers did not find any major gains using the softer tires during their mid-session mock testing, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc actually set the best FP2 time, but had he removed it for a track limit violation.
Leclerc then ended the session very early when he crashed at Rivazza’s second corner in the dying minutes.
As in today’s opening session, the first 15 minutes of the session were very busy, with several drivers taking advantage of the time at the top of the standings.
George Russell led the pack and correctly set the first round of FP2 at 1m22.939s, which was quickly improved by Kimi Raikkonen’s 1m20.118.
Carlos Sainz Jr and Leclerc brought the P1 reference in the 1m17 range, the latter’s 1m17.076 leading him to the top of the lap times following his teammate on the 3 mile track.
Both Ferrari riders were using the medium tires – the same rubber Hamilton used to go faster as they neared the end of the first 10 minutes of FP2 on a 1m16.940s.
Leclerc was able to get a head start as his mid-tire run continued, but he lost what was then his best time for crossing the Piratella bend at the top of the track’s steep slope in the second sector.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21, gets out of his car after leaving
Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images
Right after that, Bottas took first place in a 1m16.468s before Hamilton overtook her with a 1m16.227s, the majority of the field continuing to use the medium tires.
Bottas improved his best effort and the fastest overall time to 1m15.551s with almost 15 minutes completed and this time finished as the best lap in FP2.
After a short lull in action at this point in the proceedings, both Ferrari cars appeared on medium tires, which Leclerc used to achieve a 1m15.367s – but he lost this time too for the same offense at Piratella.
The Mercedes drivers were also sent to the softs for a series of qualifying mock races, but although they seemed to be pushing hard, neither made the expected improvements with the change from the rubber to the red walls.
Bottas never improved his best times on the mediums, and although Hamilton did, he still finished 0.010s slower than his teammate’s best time on the harder tires.
Pierre Gasly used the softs to get ahead of Sainz and Leclerc, who finished with an official best time of 1m16.371s – a next legal lap after his second strike, which was achieved on soft tires.
Leclerc’s crash happened 56 minutes after losing the rear of his Ferrari as he ran along the sidewalks between Rivazza’s two corners, the car swaying as he turned for the second left-hander .
He managed to catch up with the rear but the correction pushed Leclerc off the track and hit the wall, knocking down the front right wheel.
Sergio Perez took sixth place for Red Bull, who had a low-key session after Verstappen’s early stoppage.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Verstappen had appeared to match Mercedes’ early midrange session times, but coming out of Rivazza on a lap at the end of the first 10 minutes he reported “something broke in the back” – an alleged problem drive shaft – and it stopped at the end of the pit exit.
Although Verstappen’s car was returned to the Red Bull garage right after the halfway point, he did not return.
Yuki Tsunoda finished seventh in the second AlphaTauri car, with Lando Norris, who made a gravel trip to Tamburello early in the session, finishing eighth.
Antonio Giovinazzi was ninth for Alfa Romeo, with Lance Stroll completing the top 10 for Aston Martin ahead of alpine duo Esteban Ocon – straight behind Russell at the start of the session after his clash with Perez in FP1 – and Fernando Alonso.