Monaco GP Practice Two: Lewis Hamilton on song to pip Valtteri Bottas
Mercedes drivers separated by less than a tenth, but Ferrari and Red Bull cut adrift so far; Alex Albon stars for Toro Rosso and finishes fifth
By James Galloway in Monaco
Last Updated: 23/05/19 6:39pm
Lewis Hamilton pipped Valtteri Bottas to the fastest time of Practice Two as Mercedes put an authoritative stamp on the start of the Monaco GP.
Hamilton doubled up on quickest Thursday times with a best lap of 1:11.118, although Bottas was just 0.081s adrift to suggest another close battle for supremacy lies ahead between the team-mates and championship top two.
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But ahead of Friday's unique Monaco 'rest' day, Ferrari and Red Bull, winners over the last two years, have significant work to do to close what was a huge gap in excess of 0.7 seconds in P2.
"They very much remain the team to beat around here," said Sky F1's Martin Brundle of Mercedes, who are experiencing a difficult and emotional weekend off the track following the passing of Niki Lauda.
One caveat is that Max Verstappen, who split the Mercedes' in the morning and along with the Mercedes pair is F1's in-form driver, did not complete a qualifying simulation after a water leak on his Red Bull, finishing sixth.
Yet even the Dutchman did not appear happy with his car when he eventually completed a late long run.
"The car has no grip at all. Sliding, understeering. Very happy [to pit]," bemoaned Verstappen.
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Sebastian Vettel was third for Ferrari, although nearly hit the barrier at Ste Devote after outbraking himself into Monaco's famous first turn. Monaco's own Charles Leclerc ran into problems in the sister car and was 10th.
But while Mercedes stole the opening day headlines, the star of Thursday was arguably Toro Rosso rookie Alex Albon. The British-born youngster finished fifth and was within a tenth of Red Bull's Pierre Gasly.
Alfa Romeo also ran strongly to get both their drivers in the top 10 alongside Haas' Kevin Magnussen, but Renault slipped well down the order in P2 despite the presence of 2018 victor Daniel Ricciardo.
Can Mercedes be caught?
The Monaco GP and its unique street track had become something of a headache for Mercedes in recent years, but there was no evidence of past problems on day one here.
Looking dominant over short and long runs, the W10 - excelling in slow-speed corners this year - appeared in a class of one.
"They're doing exactly what we feared they would do," said Brundle.
On the shortest track of the year, their final P2 advantage of 0.763s over Vettel was particularly dominant - although hope lingers that Verstappen is faster than he was able to show.
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"We didn't get to see the best of Max. He had a water leak which obviously cost him a lot of running in that session," said Karun Chandhok.
"We saw in FP1 he was right up there with the Mercedes, so let's see how that unfolds when we get to Saturday morning."
Monaco GP Practice Two Timesheet
|1) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:11.118|
|2) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+0.081|
|3) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+0.763|
|4) Pierre Gasly||Red Bull||+0.820|
|5) Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso||+0.913|
|6) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+0.934|
|7) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+1.056|
|8) Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+1.121|
|9) Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+1.224|
|10) Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+1.232|
|11) Romain Grosjean||Haas||+1.274|
|12) Lando Norris||McLaren||+1.275|
|13) Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+1.301|
|14) Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||+1.459|
|15) Sergio Perez||Racing Point||1.634|
|16) Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||+1.754|
|17) Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+1.770|
|18) Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+3.440|
|19) George Russell||Williams||+3.934|
|20) Robert Kubica||Williams||+4.028|
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