Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz edged McLaren’s Lando Norris to top spot of second practice at the Italian Grand Prix after Sergio Perez crashed out of the session with 10 minutes remaining.
Perez was deep into a long run on medium tires when he understeered through Parabolica and dipped his left wheels into the gravel. The stones sucked the car into the run-off area, where the Mexican lost control and was helpless but to brace for contact with he barrier at the far end of the gravel trap, near the exit of the corner.
He made rear-end contact with the barrier, and the speed of his trip through the gravel will likely have caused floor damage too.
Perez had been third quickest and 0.185s off top spot at the time of the crash, which caused a five-minute red flag near the end of the hour. Only Norris got between him and Sainz, the Briton a tiny 0.019s adrift. McLaren’s good day was completed by Oscar Piastri, who was fourth fastest and only 0.005s slower than Perez.
Max Verstappen was a frustrated fifth at the end of the qualifying simulation laps. The Dutchman was 0.276s slower than Sainz but found himself stuck in a group of slow-moving cars exiting the second Lesmo, compromising his first soft-tire run.
He was denied a second attempt by the Red Bull Racing pit wall despite protests to go again, with his engineer preferring instead to focus on longer stints with the medium tire — although his race simulation was interrupted by teammate Perez’s crash.
Compounding Verstappen’s difficult afternoon was a fine for speeding in the pit lane, albeit payable by his team.
Charles Leclerc ended the day sixth in the second Ferrari ahead of Williams driver Alex Albon and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.
George Russell again led the way for Mercedes, but the Briton was 0.821s off the pace in ninth, albeit more competitive than teammate Lewis Hamilton, who 0.6s further back in 17th.
The two Mercedes drivers appeared to be experimenting with different downforce setups at the start of the session, with Hamilton noting that his configuration was too far down on straight-line speed to be competitive. His engineer said changing setup would absorb the bulk of the hour, so he made do with ad hoc tweaks for the remainder of the session.
Haas teammates Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen were 11th and 12th ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas in a smooth session for the Finn.
Alpine duo Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon were 13th and 15th and split by AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.
Logan Sargeant was 16th ahead of Hamilton, Liam Lawson and Zhou Guanyu at the back of the pack.
Lance Stroll was classified 10th without a time after suffering a suspected fuel system issue on the run down to Ascari, forcing him to pull to the side of the road and triggering a brief red flag. The technical problem leaves the Canadian without any meaningful running ahead of qualifying day, having given up his FP1 session for reserve driver Felipe Drugovich.