Italian GP: Hamilton leads final F1 practice as Sainz crashes out

Lewis Hamilton led Mercedes to a 1-2 finish in final practice for the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix on Saturday as Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz crashed heavily at Ascari.

After locking out the front row of the grid for the sprint race in qualifying on Friday, Mercedes continued to lead proceedings at Monza as it swept to the head of the field again in FP2.

Hamilton saw title rival Max Verstappen set the early pace in the session for Red Bull, but managed to pull clear at the top of the field during a soft tyre run with 15 minutes to go.

A lap time of 1m23.246s was enough to give Hamilton P1 at the end of the session, leading teammate Valtteri Bottas by two -tenths of a second in the final classification.

Verstappen ended up four tenths off Hamilton’s time in third place, having struggled to match the Briton’s pace so far this weekend.

Verstappen had sat fastest when the session was red flagged after 26 minutes when Sainz crashed through the high-speed Ascari complex.

Sainz lost control of his Ferrari on turn-in for the second apex, causing him to spear into the wall on the left-hand side of the track and leaving his car with a damaged front suspension, nose and front wing.

Sainz called it a “massive crash” over the radio and said it “hurt a bit” but that he was OK, with replays showing his head jolting forward in the cockpit. The Spaniard was taken to the medical centre after the crash and given preliminary clearance, but will undergo a further check ahead of qualifying.

Once Sainz’ car had been recovered and returned to the pitlane, the session resumed with 21 minutes left on the clock, prompting drivers to chase improvements with a change of tyres.

Hamilton set his best lap on softs, but lapped just three-tenths of a second slower on the hard compound tyre during a subsequent run.

Sprint race polesitter Bottas finished 0.222s off Hamilton in second place, while Max Verstappen made a late improvement on mediums to reduce the gap to third down to 0.416s.

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez, bounced back from a difficult qualifying to end final practice in fourth place ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.

Robert Kubica enjoyed a strong session for Alfa Romeo as he took sixth place ahead of teammate Antonio Giovinazzi, while Fernando Alonso ensured there were two Alpines in the top 10 by finishing eighth.

2020 Italian GP winner Pierre Gasly ended FP2 in ninth place as Lando Norris rounded out the top 10 for McLaren, having seen a couple of lap times get scrubbed for exceeding track limits.

Charles Leclerc was the leading Ferrari in 11th place after Sainz’ crash. Leclerc ran with a previously-used power unit in FP2 following his issues in qualifying, but reported towards the end of the session that he had to box, and could not tell the team why over the radio.

Daniel Ricciardo wound up in 12th place for McLaren ahead of the Williams pair of Nicholas Latifi and George Russell, who were followed by Yuki Tsunoda in 15th.

Nikita Mazepin took 16th for Haas ahead of Aston Martin drivers Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel, with Vettel reporting some derating from his car during the session.

Mick Schumacher finished 19th for Haas ahead of Sainz, who propped up the timesheets following his crash.

Cla Driver Laps Time Gap
1 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton
25 1'23.246
2 Finland Valtteri Bottas
24 1'23.468 0.222
3 Netherlands Max Verstappen
23 1'23.662 0.416
4 Mexico Sergio Perez
29 1'23.917 0.671
5 France Esteban Ocon
20 1'24.263 1.017
6 Poland Robert Kubica
28 1'24.280 1.034
7 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi
26 1'24.502 1.256
8 Spain Fernando Alonso
16 1'24.539 1.293
9 France Pierre Gasly
24 1'24.654 1.408
10 United Kingdom Lando Norris
27 1'24.665 1.419
11 Monaco Charles Leclerc
21 1'24.770 1.524
12 Australia Daniel Ricciardo
24 1'24.774 1.528
13 Canada Nicholas Latifi
23 1'24.805 1.559
14 United Kingdom George Russell
22 1'25.083 1.837
15 Japan Yuki Tsunoda
32 1'25.422 2.176
16 Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin
23 1'25.729 2.483
17 Canada Lance Stroll
28 1'25.763 2.517
18 Germany Sebastian Vettel
28 1'25.935 2.689
19 Germany Mick Schumacher
25 1'26.012 2.766
20 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr.
14 1'26.124 2.878
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