Italian Grand Prix – Carlos Sainz ended the day quickest ahead of Lando Norris as Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez bookmarked the session with Red Flags.
After sitting out FP1 to allow Felipe Drugovich tick off one of the mandatory rookie appearances in practice for Aston Martin, Lance Stroll wasn’t wasting any of his hour of track time today with the Canadian the first to head out on track.
Things did not go Stroll’s way however as, on his first full lap, he stopped at the side of the track reporting a loss of power. The session was Red Flagged just after the Alfa Romeos crossed the line to be the only times on the leaderboard, Zhou Guanyu with a 1:24.755 and Valtteri Bottas with a leisurely 1:31.562.
Initially Aston Martin were hoping to get Stroll’s car restarted but eventually just had to tell their driver to turn the car off and let the marshalls push it behind the barriers. The team reported that a fuel system issue was the cause of the retirement.
The session got back underway with 50 minutes on the clock and after fifteen minutes of the session passed, it was Max Verstappen’s 1:22.259 at the top of the times with Alex Albon and Segio Perez both within a tenth of his effort. The Red Bulls on medium tyres and the Williams driver on softs while the Aston Martins and Oscar Piastri were the only ones without times to their names at that stage.
A few minutes later Albon managed to improve to just 0.005 seconds off Verstappen’s time before the Ferraris beat the both of them as they got into the 1:21s with a 1:21.565 for Carlos Sainz with Charles Leclerc about two and a half tenths slower, both on mediums.
At the halfway point of the session there were only three cars on track – Logan Sargeant, Kevin Magnussen, and Leclerc who’d just emerged from the pits – while there was no change at the top with the Ferraris still leading the way with Fernando Alonso in P3, half a second off Sainz’ effort.
While Verstappen was dealing with traffic on his runs, a soft-shod Lando Norris briefly went quicker than the Red Bulls and Ferraris but it didn’t last more than a few seconds before Sainz, on his own set of softs, demoted the McLaren to P2 by two hundredths of a second.
The session was Red Flagged for the second time with just less than nine minutes to go after Perez went sliding sideways through the gravel trap at the exit of the final corner, his rear wing made a bit of contact with the wall and he tried to escape the gravel but got beached.
The car was cleared quickly so the session resumed with four minutes still to run and Albon led a train of all the remaining cars back out on track. The times didn’t improve at the end so Sainz will top the times on his birthday with a 1:21.355 with Norris 0.019 seconds behind in P2.
Perez ended the session behind the barriers but before that had set a time good enough for P3. Piastri was P4, 0.005 seconds off the Mexican while Verstappen ended the day P5 with a 1:21.631. Leclerc slotted into P6 while Albon was the last to make it into the 1:21s and was 0.624 seconds off the lead Ferrari.
Alonso ended the day P8 ahead of George Russell and Nico Hulkenberg was both the last driver in the top ten and the last within a second of Sainz after setting a 1:22.291.