Valtteri Bottas kept Mercedes in charge in Friday’s second practice session at Mugello, the Finn shadowing teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.207s, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in third.
The first part of the session was red-flagged following a heavy crash by Lando Norris that damaged the MCL35 and ruined the McLaren driver’s afternoon program.
Alex Albon and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon completed the top six.
Mugello remained gloriously sunny and warm at the start of FP2 when teams resumed their day’s program, with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen heading a train of cars out onto the track.
Among the runners, McLaren’s Lando Norris put the first time on the board while Romain Grosjean signaled power issues, a problem he had already complained about in FP1.
Charles Leclerc, who enjoyed a productive morning, was seen pointing the wrong after indulging in an early spin at Turn 12 on his out-lap, a moment that flat-spotted the Ferrari driver’s set of hard tyres.
Verstappen was on it at the outset, popping to the top with a 1m18.281s, but the Dutchman was dispatched in short order by Bottas who shaved 0.262s off that time, picking up where he had left off in FP1.
Hamilton slotted himself into third, the Briton using the hard tyres while his front-running colleagues exploited the mediums, but good efforts from Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez pushed the pair up to P2 and P3.
Shortly after 30 minutes of running, the first drama of the weekend was provided by Norris, the McLaren charger crashing on the exit of Turn 3 and bring out the red flag.
A replay showed Norris running wide and putting his left-hand wheels in the gravel, the MCl35 ripping off its front wing as it made contact with the barrier, leaving the fortunately unscathed Briton to hitch a lift back to the paddock on the back of a scooter.
A speedy clean-up allowed for a timely resumption of the session and a fast lap by Bottas whose flyer on the softs was a swift 1m16.899s, or 0.207s faster than Hamilton, with Verstappen 0.246s adrift in third.
The flurry of fast runs on the soft tyres made way for race runs as the session entered its final 30 minutes, punctuated by a yellow flag and inconsequential spin by Vettel at the exit of Turn 12.
As FP2 entered its closing stages, a misunderstanding befell Perez and Kimi Raikkonen, with the Mexican tagging the Finn upon his exit from the pitlane and sending the Alfa into the gravel, the mishap bringing out another red flag and the marshals’ clean-up crew.
However, the incident was noted by the stewards while both cars would require a few repairs.
The session resumed with drivers undertaking more long runs, testing their pace on the soft and medium compounds as well as the durability and degradation characteristics of their tyres.
There was subsequently little change to the timesheet, with Bottas once again leading the field from Hamilton and Verstappen, with Albon and Ricciardo closing out the top five.
Ocon, Perez, Gasly, Raikkonen and Leclerc rounded off the top ten while Vettel remained in the lower half of the field in P12, but the Ferrari driver ended his session o the side the track with an engien issue.
Both McLarens were also among the laggards, although Norris’ running had been cut short by his crash, as was Grosjean’s afternoon, the Haas driver weighed down by electric issues and bringing up the rear.
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