After the walkover in FP1, when Mercedes dominated proceedings, FP2 was a lot more competitive, thanks to Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton topped the session in his Mercedes, with a time 0.193 faster than the sister W07 of Nico Rosberg could manage.
Behind them, the Ferrari's too switched their FP1 order with Sebastian Vettel being best of the best, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Max Verstappen was once again ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in a more competitive afternoon for Red Bull.
Taking up his now customary seventh place, Fernando Alonso had an eventful session, that involved a clutch issue, but thankfully for McLaren wasn't terminal. Valtteri Bottas placed his Williams eighth ahead of Romain Grosjean, on a good day for Haas. Jenson Button rounded out the top 10.
Ferrari close in
It was Ferrari who were the early FP2 leaders, with Vettel's stint on the Soft tyres culminating with a 1:24.444 time around the Autodromo Nazionale, Rosberg then slotted into P2, but on the more durable and slower Medium compound tyre. Hamilton then came along and set a 1:23.732 on Soft tyres.
The Red Bull RB12 looked hard to drive in the morning, a lack of downforce - a bid to try and offset the relative lack of power to Mercedes and Ferrari - making the car unstable in the corners. However, the car looked a lot more stable, which was reflected in the jump up the timing screens from P8 and P10 in the morning.
Mercedes then decided to end the Ferrari fun, by bolting on a set of SuperSoft tyres, with Hamilton then delivering a 1:22.801 - the first time under the 82 second barrier of the weekend.
Just before half-session, Esteban Ocon's Manor stopped just after the exit of the Variante della Roggia, the second chicane, causing the Monza track to be placed under Virtual Safety Car, whilst it was moved. Raikkonen then improved his time, on a set of SuperSoft tyres after the green flag was waved.
12 months ago, the McLaren-Honda package was a disaster around the circuit, situated in a royal park. Even with Slipstream and DRS, Jenson Button couldn't overtake Max Verstappen, then driving a Renault powered Toro Rosso.
12 months on, Friday was a good day for the Woking team. Button was pleasantly surprised with a lap that put him P7 early on, before toward the end of the session doing his best Kimi Raikkonen impression on team radio, without the expletives, by saying "we've got all the information we need", indicating that he was bored before adding it would be a good idea to "save mileage", on the power uni
Next door, Fernando Alonso will be impressed with what he is seeing. After a standout drive to P7 in Belgium, the McLaren team were quietly confident of a result this weekend, but knew it would be tough. However, after overcoming a sensor issue at the start of the session, and the clutch issue mid-way thorugh, Alonso steered his MP4-31 into a strong and consistent P7. The race-pace was on par with what the Williams' were managing.
Elsewhere it was a typical Friday afternoon session, with qualifying simulations being succeeded by the high fuel, long run, race simulations. There was little trouble throughout, aside from some hairy moments when a car ran wide on the exit of Parabolica.
The two Toro Rosso drivers, Danill Kvyat and Carlos Sainz, were pushing massivly whilst coming into the pits, and their lock-ups before the pit entry left a large plume of Pirelli smoke for a long time afterwards.
|5.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+0.931|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||+1.202|
|12.||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||+1.786|
|13.||Sergio Perez||Force India||+1.852|
|17.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Toro Rosso||+2.439|
|20.||Danill Kvyat||Toro Rosso||+2.813|