Sebastian Vettel led Ferrari to the head of the Formula 1 field in second practice for the Monaco Grand Prix on Thursday, posting an unofficial lap record in the process.
Vettel trailed F1 title rival Lewis Hamilton through first practice on Thursday, but responded with a rapid lap of 1:12.720 to clinch top spot in FP2 by almost half a second.
Ferrari looked more comfortable that the rival Mercedes team throughout the session, with tire warm-up problems leaving Hamilton a lowly P8, 1.1 seconds off Vettel’s time. Teammate Valtteri Bottas was 10th-fastest.
2016 Monaco runner-up Daniel Ricciardo posed the closest challenge to Vettel at the top, finishing second, while Kimi Raikkonen was third in the second Ferrari.
Toro Rosso emerged as the surprise package of FP2 as Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr. finished fourth and fifth respectively, having been the early pace-setters before Vettel and co. went faster. Currently fifth in the constructors’ championship, Monaco could present an opportunity for the Red Bull B-team to gain ground on Force India and even its parent outfit further up the table.
Max Verstappen was sixth for Red Bull ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez, while Kevin Magnussen split the Mercedes drivers in P9.
Jenson Button’s impressive return to F1 on Thursday continued as he finished 12th, lapping just 0.035 seconds off teammate Stoffel Vandoorne in P11.
Two of F1 2017’s early strugglers saw their plight deepen in FP2 as both Jolyon Palmer and Lance Stroll hit trouble. Palmer suffered an engine failure early in the session, limiting him to just eight laps, while Stroll crashed out at Massenet with 35 minutes remaining.
As Friday is an ‘off’ day in Monaco, running will resume on Saturday with FP3 and qualifying.