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Verstappen narrowly tops FP2 in Monaco as Sainz crashes

Verstappen narrowly tops FP2 in Monaco as Sainz crashes

26 May - 17:00 Last update: 17:04

Max Verstappen has topped the second free practice session proving Red Bull Racing will still be firmly in the mix for victory in the Monaco Grand Prix. The track doesn’t suit the RB19’s strengths as much as other circuits, but Aston Martin, Mercedes and Ferrari all have work to do overnight to take advantage of that fact in Saturday’s qualifying session. 

All of the top drivers spent some time at the top of the leaderboard, which was ever changing as fuel loads dropped, confidence increased, and more rubber laid. Questions about whether Red Bull can keep their 100% streak alive were answered somewhat as Verstappen proved they are well in the mix. 

Ferrari also had a positive session as both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz sat within 0.107 seconds of the Dutchman’s fastest time. However, some positivity will be tainted because Carlos Sainz crashed at the swimming pool chicane. This was the only red flag of the session. 

As it happened

FP2 is the most important 60 minutes of practice during the entire race weekend. The track grip started to improve, and the conditions are more representative of qualifying and the Grand Prix. Though some rain is lingering on the forecast for Sunday. The tight proximity of the barriers means that drivers have to slowly build up confidence, and more wall flirting happened in this session. 

Alex Albon crashed heavily at the end of the first free practice session, ensuring the Williams engineers were busy during the break. Albon couldn’t come out when the light turned green and missed 45 minutes of running. He returned after Sainz’s red flag. 

George Russell also had a quiet FP1 session but moved to P1 early in FP2. His fellow countryman Lando Norris had to sit in the garage for longer due to an issue at the front of the car. 

The driver at the top of the leaderboard constantly changed, with Hamilton, Verstappen and Alonso all spending significant time at the top. Drivers carried extra fuel in case traffic caused them to abort their lap, so the slow drop in times wasn’t a surprise. 

After 20 minutes, Perez and Verstappen sat at the top, though Ferrari used a tyre one step harder. The soft tyres made their debut on the Aston Martin cars, and Alonso immediately went faster than Verstappen by half a second. The rest of the field joined them on the soft, and the leaderboard became a fruit machine. Bottas made the first big move to P3, but the Finnish driver didn’t stay there for long. 

Ferrari, Aston Martin and Mercedes all showed their hand on the soft tyres leaving us wondering what Red Bull had in hand. Verstappen gave it everything, only to finish third fastest. The second time around and the Dutchman regained P1. It’s worth noting that Alonso’s hot lap was heavily hindered. 

Williams had a disappointing session. They’ll be pleased to get Albon onto the track, but both drivers finished in the bottom two. Norris also had a nightmare, with an issue at the start and end of the session. Though the Brit recorded the fifth fastest time. 

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