FP2: Vettel Breaks Lap Record Whilst Mercedes Finish 8th and 10th

Sebastian Vettel was rapid in FP2, half-a-second clear of Ricciardo in 2nd with a 1.12.720 that break the lap record in Monaco. Both Mercedes were over a second down on Vettel’s time, and find themselves on the fringes of the points if nothing improves for FP3 and Qualifying.

Whilst Hamilton topped FP1 on a new set of ultrasofts, the team seemed to struggle massively on the same compound in FP2, which is the most likely race tyre for most teams. Sebastian Vettel is able to build momentum into the sessions that count, and will gain confidence in knowing that his biggest rival so far, Lewis Hamilton, isn’t having the smoothest weekend.

Daniel Ricciardo will be motivated by his own pace, he could find himself in a position similar to last season at Monaco should he remain in contention for the front-row. Kimi Raikkonen was 3rd, eight-hundredths of a second slower than the Red Bull ahead.

The shock of the session came in the competitiveness of the Toro Rosso drivers. Chief designer James Key was playing down the team’s prospects only yesterday, but Daniil Kvyat finished the session in 4th, with Carlos Sainz 5th. This is by far the team’s best FP2 this season, and bodes well for Q3 on Saturday and a double points finish in the race.

Verstappen was 6th, behind the drivers of the junior team. It’s worth noting that the Red Bull drivers and the cars in between were only separated by just under three-tenths. Sergio Perez finished the session 7th with a larger gap than usual to Esteban Ocon, who could only muster 15th. It suggests that Perez is outperforming the car here.

Hamilton was 8th fastest, which feels strange to write, with Kevin Magnussen showing some prospects of top ten contention on Sunday with the 9th fastest time. Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top ten for Mercedes.

Both McLaren cars were within a tenth of Bottas’ time and finished 11th and 12th, with Vandoorne edging the returning Jenson Button by a fraction. Button has slotted back into Formula 1 with ease, there’s hardly a gap to his teammate. The team should be lifted by the FP2 places they finds themselves in, they are within touching distance of the top ten. Button also pulled a cheeky move on Hamilton in the session, that could end up being the overtake of the weekend.

Massa was only 13th, with Lance Stroll 16th. The young Canadian crashed out of FP2 after losing the rear heading into Massenet. It’s a likely corner for carbon fibre confetti over the weekend, but it doesn’t do Stroll’s profile much good that it was him making the mistake.

Renault should be alarmed by their lack of pace. Nico Hulkenberg wasn’t able to pull off his usual cameo at the sharp end of the grid in Practice, and was 17th, ahead of Palmer by a colossal eight-tenths. Sauber were at the back of the grid in this session, a sign that a very aggressive route in R&D yields a higher chance of components failing to make the difference.