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Leclerc leads FP2 after Ricciardo’s crash

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Carlos Sainz finished second ahead of Red Bull pairing Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, who was unable to gain as much time on aged rubber during mid-FP2 qualifying simulation efforts compared to his team-mate.

Ferrari started the second session on hard tyres, which meant that Leclerc and Sainz drifted ahead of trailblazer Pérez, who had dethroned Alex Albon at the head of the times after three minutes of the hour-long session had passed.

Perez’s 1m16.176s stood as the initial benchmark before Leclerc went ahead with a 1m15.763s after five minutes, with Sainz then taking top spot with a 1m14.880s as the drivers quickly regained performance levels. confidence they had achieved in FP1. and additional rubber was placed on the running line.

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After 10 minutes, Pérez’s 1m14.001s in the mids put him back in front, now with Verstappen behind and with Leclerc’s subsequent effort as the first 15 minutes came to an end, putting him third.

At this stage the process was stopped when Ricciardo crashed heavily in the second part of the pool complex.

Moments after Sebastian Vettel dramatically saved a lateral moment in the same spot to avoid crashing into the barriers aboard his Aston Martin, Ricciardo, who was on his first timed lap of FP2 having missed the first part of the race , lost his McLaren. back as he spun into the apex of Turn 13 to the left on entry to the sequence.

As Ricciardo reacted to the sudden slide, the car spun left and hit the barriers on the outside of the pool’s first chicane, knocking off its front wing and crushing its left front wheel, with the wrecked machine then sliding along the track and hitting the barriers on the inside of the second chicane.

After a delay of nearly 10 minutes, the session restarted, with the majority of the field switching to softs to complete their qualifying simulations – even more critical practice than usual on a track that offers so little chance of overtaking.

Fernando Alonso used his red wall tire to briefly move into first place with a 1m13.912s, before the following Pérez returned to the top of the times with a 1m13.324s.

After Verstappen slipped behind his teammate, Leclerc led Ferrari’s charge on the softs, returning to top spot with a time of 1m13.125s, bettering Perez’s time by 0.199s.

Here the two leading teams diverged in approaches to the first set of softs they were using, with the Red Bull drivers pressing for a second time after two slow cool-down runs, while Leclerc did the same after a slower lap.

Verstappen then set the fastest time in the middle sector as he advanced with 1m13.103s before Leclerc, now running closer on track to his title rival due to his smaller gap between pushing efforts, responded with the first time. in 1m12s. support.

Leclerc’s 1:12.764s put him further away from the Red Bulls, with Sainz taking second behind his teammate, 0.302 seconds behind.

While Sainz returned to the pits at this stage with 25 minutes to go, Leclerc continued his run in his first set of softs, setting up a third wheel in a 1m12.656s that featured big gains in the first and last sectors.

That was the fastest time to the end of the session, with Leclerc’s fourth fastest lap, having visited the pits, starting with the fastest time in the first sector before having to abandon the effort after running into Nicholas Latifi going slow. around the corners of the pool.

Sainz had narrowed the gap to clearance to 0.221s as the final third began, but after a third visit to the pits before continuing to push on softs, he managed to post a 1m12.700s, finishing just 0.044s slower than Leclerc with the the fastest time of the session in the middle sector.

After the action on the softs, the Red Bull drivers switched to running on high fuel well before the Ferrari drivers, who only spent the last 10 minutes collecting long-term data.

Prior to that, Pérez had found time with his third and final soft flyer to finish third, 0.379s slower than Leclerc, while Verstappen failed to make a similar gain and was therefore relocated to fourth.

Lando Norris took fifth in the other McLaren, the Briton having an eventful session after eyeing the barriers at Ste Devote just past the halfway point, avoiding a big slide in the final corners and a few laps later and then locking strongly his right forehead and having to dive down the Ste Devote escape route during the final stages.

George Russell, who also reported hitting the wall at the end of his qualifying simulation efforts, his incident at Tabac, was sixth for Mercedes but complained of a lack of engine power as the end of FP2 approached.

Pierre Gasly was seventh for AlphaTauri ahead of Alonso and Vettel, while Yuki Tsunoda completed the top 10.

Lewis Hamilton finished 12th, his best lap 1.611s slower than Leclerc, with the seven-time world champion reporting a badly punctured front left tire during the opening race and then having one of his qualifying sim races ruined by a double lockup. To Mirabeau, which meant he had to take the escape route down the slope to the left.

Valtteri Bottas’ FP1 throttle problem was fixed in enough time for him to make an immediate start to FP2, with the Finn finishing 13th.

The other driver who missed much of FP1, Haas’ Mick Schumacher, was also out early after his team fitted a replacement gearbox and MGU-K, after the MGU-K he had been using in FP1 FP1 failed and overloaded the gearbox it had been using. in the opening session.

Schumacher finished FP2 in 17th place, with Ricciardo the only driver not to set a time during the session.

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