Mercedes driver George Russell went quickest in the final practice session for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, beating Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez by eight hundredths of a second, with championship leader Charles Leclerc in third place.
After a rain affected Friday at Imola’s Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the final practice was held in dry and warm conditions.
McLaren’s Lando Norris, who will line up third for Saturday afternoon’s Sprint, set the early pace with a lap of 1:23.821 before Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton went almost two seconds quicker on medium tyres with eight minutes on the clock. Pérez then moved to the top of the order and he stayed there for the remainder of the first half of the hour-long session as he whittled at his personal best times over the course of a lengthy run on soft compound Pirelli tyres that appeared to mimic what might happen in the 21-lap sprint.
Pérez eventually worked his way to a best time of 1:19.538 but as the session hit the halfway mark Russell emerged for a single-lap run on soft tyres that netted him top spot by 0.081s.
Championship leader Charles Leclerc spent the early part of the session on medium tyres as he focused on tomorrow’s grand prix and it wasn’t until the final quarter hour that he moved to the red-walled soft tyres. The softer rubber took him to a best time of 1:19.740 and third place ahead of the second Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
Fifth place in the session went to Alpine’s Fernando Alonso whose best lap of 1:20.174 was good enough to push the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz to sixth place by just under a tenth of a second.
World champion Max Verstappen, who on Friday claimed pole position for the Sprint, ended the second practice session in seventh place as he focused on race-targeted long runs. AlphaTauri, meanwhile, recovered from a double Q1 elimination on Friday to finish eighth and ninth in FP2, with Yuki Tsunoda ahead of Pierre Gasly. The final top-10 spot was taken by Zhou Guanyu of Alfa Romeo whose best time of 1:20.498 left him just over a second adrift of Russell.
There was trouble though for McLaren. After setting the early pace in FP2 Lando Norris reported a brake issue and he returned to the team’s garage. He completed just three laps in the session. Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo missed the entire session with a suspected power unit issue.
Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas also missed all 60 minutes of the session as his team tried to fix problems associated with the exhaust issue that had left the Finn stranded at the side of the track in qualifying.
2022 FIA Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 George Russell Mercedes 32 1:19.457
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 33 1:19.538 0.081
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 35 1:19.740 0.283
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 34 1:19.992 0.535
5 Fernando Alonso Alpine 29 1:20.174 0.717
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 31 1:20.258 0.801
7 Max Verstappen Red Bull 36 1:20.371 0.914
8 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 35 1:20.381 0.924
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 37 1:20.439 0.982
10 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 32 1:20.498 1.041
11 Alex Albon Williams 34 1:20.591 1.134
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas 30 1:20.740 1.283
13 Mick Schumacher Haas 29 1:20.977 1.520
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 38 1:21.149 1.692
15 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 38 1:21.155 1.698
16 Esteban Ocon Alpine 30 1:21.179 1.722
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams 31 1:21.263 1.806
18 Lando Norris McLaren 6 1:23.821 4.364