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FP2 in Montreal: Verstappen continues stranglehold

The Dutch driver looked comfortable and composed as he led home his second session of the day

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F1 continued to ramp up to the first Canadian Grand Prix since before COVID-19, with Free Practice 2 proving to be another opportunity for Max Verstappen to assert his dominance.

Starting at 17:00 local time, the weather held out following a dry Free Practice 1. Thursday proved to be a washout in Montreal, but the concerns of bad weather didn’t come to fruition for any of Friday’s running.

10 minutes or so before the start of FP2, Gary Groundhog encored following his on-track heroics in FP1. He was living dangerously earlier in the day, but how would he fare in the second session? He’d mastered the short runs, but we’d yet to see his true race pace. Might he make setup changes?

Also looking promising heading into the final running of the day was Fernando Alonso. He’d managed to finish the first session in P3 on medium tyres, whilst the usual frontrunners around him utilised the softer, faster compound.

The winners

Well, Max Verstappen, for one. Utterly assured and looking good for the rest of the weekend. Sebastian Vettel also put in a strong performance to finish the session in P4. He’s always gone well in Canada and he looks set to continue that in 2022.

Not quite P3, but P5 ain’t bad – Fernando Alonso came home just behind, and has looked consistently quick all day. Will he have the weekend he deserved in Australia in Canada instead?

The Losers

Valtteri Bottas had a session to forget. No completed lap times, and electronics issues that look likely to keep the team at the circuit well into the evening.

Mercedes started the session late after making changes to their set ups. Hamilton and Russell seemingly went in very different directions. Unfortunately for the seven-time world champion, his approach rendered the car almost undrivable.

Full coverage is below:

And so it begins…

As PF2 began, “wholesale changes”, as Ted Kravitz put it, were taking place in the Mercedes garage for both cars. It looks to be a while before either will hit the circuit. Experimental setups in FP1 didn’t work, and changes were needed for both Hamilton and Russell.

Just as the Sky Sport confirmed that AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda would start the race from the back of the field following engine penalities, the first investigation of the session was confirmed. Sebastian Vettel cut Kevin Magnussen up in the pit lane, in what looked like an unsafe release.

Vettel and Magnussen in FP2
Aston Martin release Sebastian Vettel into the path of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen. The first investigation of the session. (Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter)

As the 10-minute mark approached, Valtteri Bottas appeared to be dealing with electronics issues and was held up in the garage.

With 50 minutes remaining, Max Verstappen leads the session. He’s into the 1:14s on the medium tyre. The Alpine of Alonso, trying the soft rubber for PF2 a few tenths back. The Ferrari’s split their approach, but are the only other two cars within a second of the flying dutchman.

Into the second quarter…

As the clock ticks down to 45:00 left, the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton sets his first time of the session. He slots in P6. The mechanical changes between FP1 and FP2 appear to have had a positive impact.

Pierre Gasly is next up to be investigated by the stewards. His alleged crime? Not following the race director’s notes. He overshot the chicane and didn’t go to the left of the bollard at the final corner.

Pierre Gasly in FP2
Pierre Gasly was investigated for not going to the left of the bollard when he ran wide at the final corner. (Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter)

No sign of Gary Groundhog yet, but a stray can of Diet Pepsi brought out the virtual safety car for the first time in the session.

Poor Bottas was consigned to the garage again and was yet to set a time as the clock drifted under 35:00 for the day.

The second half…

Less than half the session left to run, and Alonso had fallen behind the Ferraris. And Vettel’s Aston Martin. Lando Norris had a couple of scary moments; a bit of a slide heading into the second sector and a big lock-up later in the lap.

Speaking of the Ferraris, Charles Leclerc closed up to less than a tenth of a second behind Verstappen, who was now fastest on softs instead of mediums and had the session in a stranglehold.

Further down the order, there was a fair amount of field spread in lap time amongst teammates. Verstappen is informed that heavy rain is due just after the end of the session. Looks like it’ll end dry, even if a few spots do arrive before the chequered flag.

With just over 15 minutes to go, Valtteri Bottas was still in the garage. A gearbox issue, which keeps the car in anti-stall preventing him from getting any laps in.

The final quarter…

Well into the long runs now on heavy fuel, now and a plastic bag drew the attention of the commentators to litter situation around the circuit.

staying with the Sky Sports F1 commentators, Crofty shared a fun stat by FormulaNerds’ own James MacKenzie, who had emailed to inform him of the company Charles Leclerc will keep if he continues to take poles without podiums. He currently has 15 poles to 17 podiums. James reliably confirms that:

“Only four drivers have earned more poles than podiums in the sport’s history: Jim Clark with 33 poles and 32 podiums; Jean-Pierre Jabouille with 6 poles and 2 podiums; Teo Fabi with 3 poles and 2 podiums; Nico HΓΌlkenberg with 1 pole and 0 podiums.”

As the session draws to a close, Hamilton complains that his Mercedes is undrivable. Verstappen never really looked like being challenged, and always had pace in hand.

Gary Groundhog didn’t make the classifications this session, but the full results are below:

Featured Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter

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