RACE DEBRIEF

    Charles Leclerc has never made it to Q3 at his home race before. But the Monegasque looks in a good position to achieve that this weekend judging by his Free Practice 2 performance for the Monaco Grand Prix, as he headed Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz by a tenth at the top of the time sheets, as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton took third.

    It had looked for a long time like Sainz would be finishing the session as the fastest driver, before a late effort in the qualifying simulations saw Leclerc take the P1 spot – a fine response after gearbox issues sidelined him for the majority of the morning session, as he wound up 0.112s ahead of Sainz, in what was a fantastic result for the Scuderia.

    AS IT HAPPENED: All the action from second practice in Monaco

    Sainz said on Wednesday in Monaco that this weekend would be a good indicator of his confidence levels in the Ferrari SF21. And on the evidence of Free Practice 2, he’s looking very confident indeed, following up his P2 in FP1 with the same position in FP2, heading Hamilton by 0.278s, with the Ferraris the only two cars in the 1m 11s around the Principality so far.

    Hamilton was narrowly ahead of the Red Bull of chief title rival Max Verstappen, who complained of understeer in the session, as the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas claimed P5, 0.423s off the pace of Leclerc – who wore a Louis Chiron tribute helmet, commemorating his fellow Monegasque.

    Formula 1 Grand Prix De Monaco 2021

    Monaco 2021

    Practice 2 results

    POSITION TIME
    1 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari 1:11.684
    2 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari +0.112s
    3 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes +0.390s
    4 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing +0.397s
    5 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes +0.423s

    Lando Norris has a special helmet for this weekend too, and used it to take P6 in the Gulf-liveried McLaren MCL35M, as Pierre Gasly claimed seventh for AlphaTauri. Sergio Perez had looked supremely confident in the early medium runs in his Red Bull RB16B, but couldn’t string a lap together on the softs that was good enough for higher than P8, the Mexican narrowly ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, who benefitted from putting in an early lap on the softs before the traffic ramped up.

    GALLERY: Ricciardo, Latifi, Leclerc and more sport special helmets for the Monaco Grand Prix

    Two-time Monaco winner Sebastian Vettel maintained his top 10 placing from this morning, following up his P8 from FP1 with P10 this time out – although the German was slowed by an issue with his eye midway through the session.

    He finished ahead of a brace of fellow Monaco winners, Kimi Raikkonen taking 11th for Alfa Romeo as Fernando Alonso took 12th. Lance Stroll was 13th in the second Aston Martin, ahead of Esteban Ocon, while Daniel Ricciardo continued to have difficulties in the McLaren MCL35M, the Australian taking 15th, having been slowed by former team mate Vettel on his fastest lap.

    FP2 Highlights: 2021 Monaco Grand Prix

    Williams’ George Russell in 16th headed team mate Nicholas Latifi on the squad’s 750th Grand Prix, Latifi overcoming an understeer moment at the hairpin to take 17th. Haas’ Nikita Mazepin finished ahead of Mick Schumacher for the second session in a row, Schumacher blotting his copybook with a late clout into the wall at Massenet, bringing out a red flag that curtailed the session.

    WATCH: Fernando Alonso is first driver of the weekend to hit the wall at Monaco in FP1

    He wasn’t the only rookie clouting walls meanwhile, with Yuki Tsunoda forced to miss much of the session after hitting the barriers at the exit of the Swimming Pool, the Japanese driver ending up 20th.

    So, after the first day’s running, it’s Ferrari who have come from nowhere to be top of the pile. But with a full day to crunch the data on Friday, will they maintain that advantage come qualifying on Saturday?

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    Daniel Ricciardo on track in the Gulf-liveried McLaren