It was almost the perfect second practice session for Sebastian Vettel - with the Ferrari driver setting the fastest time in FP2 - but it ended on a sour note when he suffered a late spin at Monza. Fortunately for the German, he was able to escape from the gravel with only minor damage to his SF71H, and he knows where he went wrong...
After encountering problems with his car during a rain-hit FP1, with Ferrari eventually opting for a change of his Friday-only gearbox, Vettel bounced back in impressive fashion in the day’s second practice, and displayed his pace on the supersoft rubber early on.
But later on, the four-time world champion pushed too hard at the Parabolica bend and spun backwards through the gravel. His Ferrari rear wing sustained minor damage, after nudging the barriers, and cost Vettel some running time during the latter stages of the session.
“Overall it was OK,” said Vettel, who headed a Ferrari one-two ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. “This morning was a bit difficult to read the conditions. We had a small problem, but this afternoon it was OK.
"The small problem was more my side, I lost some track time because I pushed maybe a bit too hard. But equally it’s good to find out. The car seemed to be OK. The most important was that we could still carry on and still gather some data.
“I tried and I know what doesn’t work, and it’s good to know. I thought I managed it without touching the barrier, but I touched it slightly, and we broke a bit of the rear-wing end plate and had to change.
“The car was fine. At least I got out of the sandpit which was difficult as a child. Nowadays I don’t want to spend much time there. I'm happy we could carry on.”
While Vettel was able to avoid any serious damage, the same couldn’t be said of Marcus Ericsson, who suffered a scary high-speed crash after just two minutes of FP2 action.
Ericsson’s C37 veered left into the wall near the end of the start-finish straight, smashing into the barriers at a very high velocity before barrel rolling numerous times over the grass – and Vettel says the Swede is lucky to escape unharmed.
“I don’t know what happened," he said. "I saw the same as everybody else. I don’t know why it happened. Obviously if that happens, then very quickly you become a passenger. By the time he noticed I think it was too late. Thankfully nothing happened to him, and he was able to walk away.”
Vettel trails leader Lewis Hamilton by 17 points in the drivers’ standings, and will be keen to close that gap in front of Ferrari’s home support this weekend.