RACE DEBRIEF

    Free Practice 2 for the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix gave us our first taste of how qualifying at this fast, idyllic Mugello circuit could go, with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas heading the times by two-tenths from team mate Lewis Hamilton – with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen just 0.039s further back.

    Bottas looked well hooked up around the 3.28-mile track, as he ended the session as the only driver to lap in the 1m 16s at Mugello, stopping the clocks at 1m 16.989s, nearly a second faster than his session-leading time from this morning as he completed a clean sweep of P1s for Friday.

    FP1: Bottas heads Verstappen and Leclerc in first practice at Mugello

    Hamilton was 0.207s further back, but there was drama mid-session for McLaren’s Lando Norris, who ran off the track at the exit of Turn 3 – or Poggiosecco for the conoscenti – before spinning into the wall and wiping the front wing off his MCL35, bringing out the red flags just as the drivers were beginning to get into their qualifying simulations.

    Once the session had restarted 10 minutes later, Verstappen ended up a promising third for Red Bull, there or thereabouts with Hamilton’s time, while Alex Albon slotted into fourth, but was over seven-tenths off his team mate’s time.

    Formula 1 Pirelli Gran Premio Della Toscana Ferrari 1000 2020

    Italy 2020

    Practice 2 results

    POSITION TIME
    1 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes 1:16.989
    2 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes +0.207s
    3 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing +0.246s
    4 Alexander Albon ALB Red Bull Racing +0.982s
    5 Daniel Ricciardo RIC Renault +1.050s
    FP2 Highlights from Mugello

    Behind the Mercedes and the Red Bull pairs came the two Renaults, who’ll have been pleased to take the ‘third best team’ spots after predicting that Mugello might not suit their R.S.20 package, with Daniel Ricciardo narrowly ahead of Esteban Ocon, and just 0.069s off Albon.

    Hot on the back of the news that he would leave the team at the end of the year, Sergio Perez was Racing Point’s fastest driver in seventh, ahead of Monza winner Pierre Gasly in eighth for AlphaTauri – with Kimi Raikkonen an encouraging ninth for Alfa Romeo, 20 years to the day from his first F1 test at the track.

    READ MORE: Red Bull to give Albon ‘best opportunity’ to retain his seat, not planning Gasly swap

    However, after their qualifying simulation runs, there was a bizarre incident late in the session for Raikkonen and Perez as the two drivers collided at Turn 1 just as Perez was leaving the pit lane, bringing out the second red flag of the day – with the incident set to be investigated after the session.

    This weekend celebrates Ferrari’s 1,000th Grand Prix. And after his starring P3 in morning practice, Charles Leclerc slipped back in FP2 as he took 10th – while both he and team mate Sebastian Vettel suffered spins at the Correntaio corner during the session, with Vettel ending up P12, but just 0.098s behind his team mate, with Lance Stroll in between the pair for Racing Point in 11th. Ferrari will have been a touch worried after Vettel's power unit appeared to cut out right at the end of the session, however...

    2020 Tuscan GP FP2: Norris smashes into barriers

    There was work to do for the McLaren squad, however, who wound up P13 and P14 a week on from their strong Monza race, with Carlos Sainz heading Norris before the British driver had his off. Daniil Kvyat with 15th in the second AlphaTauri, while George Russell did well to go 16th for Williams.

    The timesheets were rounded out by the second Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi in 17th, the second Williams of Nicholas Latifi in 18th, while the two Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean brought up the rear – Grosjean missing much of the session with an electrical issue.

    READ MORE: ‘We all need a bit of love sometimes’ – Szafnauer on why Vettel can flourish with Aston Martin

    Meanwhile, FP2 appeared to confirm that tyre management could be a key issue this weekend on Mugello’s abrasive tarmac, with drivers complaining a lot about overheating tyres on Mugello’s hot, abrasive surface.

    So it’s Mercedes with the early advantage as Formula 1 enters uncharted territory at Mugello. But Red Bull are within spitting distance, with a fantastic qualifying session on Saturday in store.