Lewis Hamilton continued to set the pace in second practice for the Monaco Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver was just eight thousandths quicker than teammate Valtteri Bottas, setting them up for another close battle in qualifying.
Mercedes went into Thursday’s practice session with caution, the difficulties of recent years around Monte Carlo being not as bad. The race weekend could be a fight for control of the championship. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel set the early pace, the Silver Arrows, however, left it late to do their qualifying simulations.
Bottas set the first time going fastest with an 11.5, before getting it down to an 11.1. Meanwhile, as Hamilton attempted to go faster on used tyres he locked up at Ste Devote going down the escape road. Vettel followed later on before finishing seven and a half tenths off the pace.
Pierre Gasly was the best of the Red Bull’s, he was fourth fastest ahead of the Toro Rosso of Alex Albon. However, Gasly’s teammate Max Verstappen was unable to match his morning pace, a water leak meant that he was in the garage for most of the session.
The Dutchman appeared to struggle for grip, and told the team on the radio, “The car has no grip at all. Sliding, understeering. Very happy [to pit].” He returned to the track in the closing stages and completed a further seven laps, but did not improve on his earlier time.
Mercedes appear to have the advantage around the tricky streets, a surprise for the team. This has become the race the German manufacturer fears the most, despite dominance in recent years they have struggled to hook the car up in Monaco.
This year at the end of FP2 the seven tenth advantage over Vettel was particularly dominant, although hope lingers that Verstappen is faster than he was able to show.
Haas’s Kevin Magnussen remained best of the rest ahead of the two Alfa Romeos of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen and Leclerc. The Monacan complained of breaking issues during the session. While Magnussen’s teammate Romain Grosjean was eleventh ahead of the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz.
Daniil Kvyat lost time in the final sector on his best lap and ended up fourteenth, 1.459s down and just ahead of the Racing Point of Sergio Perez.
Renault failed to match there strong showing in FP1, both cars slipping down to the Q1 elimination zone. Nico Hulkenberg sixteenth a hundredth faster than teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
While Lance Stroll was eighteenth ahead of both Williams of George Russell and Robert Kubica.
MONACO GP – Lewis Hamilton sets the pace in FP1 by five hundredths over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen
Prixview – Monaco Grand Prix