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Formula 1

Sainz ends Italian GP Friday on top, Perez spins out

by Ben Anderson
3 min read

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz set the fastest time in second practice for the 2023 Italian Grand Prix, as Monza’s typical slipstreaming traffic problems spoiled Max Verstappen’s qualifying simulation.

Key moments:

> Sainz sets the pace for Ferrari

> Two McLarens in top four

> Perez causes red flag with Parabolica off

> No mileage for Stroll

Verstappen was only fifth-fastest for Red Bull, almost three tenths off the pace. He described the middle sector of his best lap as “shocking with the traffic” after encountering a train of slow-moving cars through the Lesmos.

Formula 1’s reigning double world champion urged his team to allow him a second run, complaining he “didn’t get a proper read” on the RB19’s balance over one lap, but his engineer Gianpiero Lambiase told Verstappen to pit regardless, deadpanning to his driver’s audible protestations “it’s not qualifying, Max”.

Though McLaren team boss Andrea Stella has played down his team’s chance of fighting for a podium on this low-downforce circuit, Lando Norris was second-fastest in FP2, just 0.019s behind Sainz, while Oscar Piastri was fourth – sandwiched between the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Perez, who later caused a red flag after running wide into the Parabolica gravel and beaching his RB19 after a slight impact with the wall during the high-fuel race runs.

Charles Leclerc rounded out the top six for Ferrari, which also looked competitive on the medium-compound tyre in the early running, suggesting Ferrari’s rear wing efficiency choice for this circuit is working well.

Alex Albon continued to impress for Williams, setting the seventh-fastest time overall using the medium compound – but he and team-mate Logan Sargeant ran out of sequence on tyres compared to the majority of the field, running the softs initially then switching to the mediums.

Fernando Alonso was eighth-fastest for Aston Martin, while team-mate Lance Stroll failed to complete a flying lap after giving up his car to rookie reserve driver Felipe Drugovich for FP1 then suffering a fuel system shutdown on his out-lap in FP2, meaning the first 10 minutes of the session were lost to a red-flag stoppage after Stroll’s car lost drive approaching the Ascari chicane.

George Russell was the faster of the Mercedes drivers in ninth, ahead of Haas pair Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen. Russell’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton languished in 17th, complaining to his Mercedes team about a rear wing choice that left him 5km/h down in straight-line speed compared to Russell – though Mercedes also said Hamilton was giving away some laptime to Russell through the first chicane.

Hamilton also looked as though he baulked McLaren’s Piastri through the second chicane during the early running, leading to a sarcastic “yeah, nice from Hamilton” radio message from Piastri to his team.

Practice 2 Results

Pos Name Car Best Time Gap Leader
1 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1m21.355s
2 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m21.374s +0.019s
3 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1m21.54s +0.185s
4 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 1m21.545s +0.19s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m21.631s +0.276s
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m21.716s +0.361s
7 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 1m21.979s +0.624s
8 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m22.071s +0.716s
9 George Russell Mercedes 1m22.176s +0.821s
10 Nico Hülkenberg Haas-Ferrari 1m22.291s +0.936s
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m22.574s +1.219s
12 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m22.595s +1.24s
13 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault 1m22.651s +1.296s
14 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m22.696s +1.341s
15 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m22.716s +1.361s
16 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 1m22.755s +1.4s
17 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m22.783s +1.428s
18 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m23.167s +1.812s
19 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m23.346s +1.991s
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