Monaco GP | Vettel tops FP2, Mercedes struggle

Second free practice at the Monaco Grand Prix topped by Sebastian Vettel from Daniel Ricciardo.

The Monaco Grand Prix weekend had eased into action with Lewis Hamilton posting what was the then fastest ever lap around the streets of Monte Carlo. But once the afternoon was underway, times continued to tumble with Sebastian Vettel lowering Daniil Kvyat’s benchmark. While the barriers began to claim their first victims in Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll – two drivers who were yet to ever lap the circuit.

Having been satisfied with their opening sessions, a handful of drivers took a relaxed start to FP2. With Sebastian Vettel opting for a chat with the mechanics of his former team – Red Bull – as Ricciardo arrived marginally late to the session.

Lewis Hamilton was also among the drivers not to head straight out as second practice went green. With the Briton having taken the Formula One safety car out for a spin before the session as a reward for a charity auction winner.

Hamilton - between thursday practice safety car run - monaco 2017 - mercedes

Lewis Hamilton in the F1 safety car between practice sessions at the Monaco Grand Prix. Photo credit: Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

While those drivers took a relaxed start, the track was still a hive of activity. With Daniil Kvyat and Kimi Raikkonen amongst the drivers setting the early pace.

Romain Grosjean had been the first driver to post a lap time in the afternoon session as he set a 1:16.741. His time, however, instantly bettered by Raikkonen and – thanks in part to ultrasoft tyres rather than supers – Stoffel Vandoorne.

Stoffel’s time, like Grosjean’s though, was soon demoted down the leaderboard as Kvyat and Sainz put Toro Rosso first and second. With Kvyat repeatedly gaining pace as his run continued. Seeing the Russin lower his benchmark from 1:14.031 to 1:13.758 and eventually 1:13.331 – a time faster than Hamilton’s table-topping lap time from FP1.

By now, Hamilton had also joined in on the track action as Mercedes and Ferrari both came out on the supersoft tyres. Lapping a full second down on the Toro Rosso of Kvyat, who was now top to Max Verstappen by two-tenths of a second.

The harder compound tyres fitted to the Mercedes, however, was causing Hamilton issues as he reported “This tyre’s not working that well – Taking ages to get temperature in,” while the Mercedes also showed worse traction out of the corners.

Meanwhile, while Hamilton struggled with his supersoft tyres, Vettel had moved up the order and into third place, 2.5 tenths down on Kvyat’s time despite still running the harder compound.

Sainz FP2 Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat pulling out of the Toro Rosso garage during FP2 at the Monaco Grand Prix. Photo credit: Toro Rosso.

Kvyat, though, was now no longer sat as the fastest man in FP2 as the 2016 Monaco pole-sitter, Daniel Ricciardo, moved top on a 1:13.280 – three-tenths faster than his pole time.

Once on ultras, Mercedes also continued to be off the pace of their rivals as Kimi Raikkonen slotted into second behind Ricciardo. Vettel, too, was lapping faster on the softest Pirelli offering as he set a personal best first sector. But a lock up into the chicane forced the German to bail out of his lap.

Following his lock-up lap, Vettel continued to push on with the purple-walled tyres as he set purple times in sectors two and three as he moved top by half a second to become the first driver to ever lap Monaco inside 1:12 with a 12.759.

https://twitter.com/ScuderiaFerrari/status/867724068350566401

Sebastian Vettel exits the Ferrari garage during FP2 at the Monaco Grand Prix. Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari.

Vettel later bettered his lap by 3-hundredths of a second as he set new purple sector one and two before a mistake in the final part of the lap saw him fail to drastically improve.

As for Mercedes, their lack of pace came down to their set-up as they felt they had opted for the wrong route.

In terms of race pace, Ferrari was also clear of Mercedes by a fairly considerable margin as their average race-sim lap time was a 1:15.5. Compared to the 1:16 average by Mercedes – an average lap time matched by Toro Rosso and bettered by three-tenths by Red Bull.

After a trouble free FP1, second practice was the first session of the weekend where drivers truly began to be caught out by the narrow track and its nearby walls. Rather than the kisses with the barriers seen in the opening 90-minutes of running.

The first of the sizable contacts came thanks to Esteban Ocon early into the afternoon session, when the French driver lost the rear of his car out of Turn Seven. The rear of his Force India stepping out saw his rear-left tyre take a heavy hit with the barrier, but – thankfully for Ocon – he was able to get the car back to the garage and without taking any suspension or gearbox damage.

Jolyon Palmer was the next driver to hit problems in FP2 as smoke began to flow from his exhaust at Mirabeau. Forcing Palmer to park his Renault at Portier and bring his session to an abrupt end.

Ericsson then found himself in a similar brush with the barrier to Ocon, except at the exit of Casino. Taking too much of the entry kerb, leading the rear to step out flick into barrier.

Massa leads Stroll in FP2 - Williams

Felipe Massa follows F1 rookie Lance Stroll through the Monaco hairpin. Photo credit: Williams Racing.

For Lance Stroll later into the session, his brush with the Monaco barriers saw his session come to an end before he could arrive at Casino. Bringing out the red flags with 36 minutes remaining, as he lost the rear of the car and failed to stop the slide before running out of track. Breaking his front left suspension and requiring a crane to clear his stricken car.

Moments before Stroll’s crash he had also reported on the radio that he had no grip as he struggled to get his tyres into the zone.

Pos Driver Team Laps Time Gap
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 37 1’12.720
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 34 1’13.207 0.487
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 45 1’13.283 0.563
4 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 40 1’13.331 0.611
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 42 1’13.400 0.68
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 35 1’13.486 0.766
7 Sergio Perez Force India 44 1’13.799 1.079
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 30 1’13.873 1.153
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas 45 1’13.890 1.17
10 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 38 1’13.902 1.182
11 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 41 1’13.946 1.226
12 Jenson Button McLaren 36 1’13.981 1.261
13 Felipe Massa Williams 45 1’14.003 1.283
14 Romain Grosjean Haas 43 1’14.022 1.302
15 Esteban Ocon Force India 46 1’14.093 1.373
16 Lance Stroll Williams 27 1’14.474 1.754
17 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 40 1’14.870 2.15
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 8 1’15.616 2.896
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 31 1’15.691 2.971
20 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 36 1’15.695 2.975