Motorsport

Charles Leclerc sets the pace by topping practice sessions

Charles Leclerc.

Charles Leclerc.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Most drivers struggled on slippery conditions running wide and losing control of their cars

Close on the heels of winning his maiden Grand Prix and ending Ferrari’s win drought that dated back to the US GP last year, Charles Leclerc ensured the passionate Tifosi had something to cheer about as the young Monagesque driver topped Friday’s two free practice sessions.

On a day when both sessions were interrupted by rains that saw cars sliding across the fastest circuit on the calendar with Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez having crashed in the morning session, the Ferrari looked at ease as the Italian team chases its first win at home since 2010.

Most drivers struggled on slippery conditions running wide and losing control of their cars and both sessions were stopped briefly with debris on track taking time to be cleared.

Ferrari favourite

On a circuit where there is a premium on horsepower and straight-line speeds, Ferrari goes into the weekend as favourites but Lewis Hamilton got his Mercedes with 0.068 seconds of the Leclerc in FP2 with Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas rounding out the top four.

Red Bull Honda finished fifth and sixth in FP2 with Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso), Romain Grosjean (Haas), Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) rounding up the top 10. McLaren who are currently fourth in the constructor’s standings struggled in FP2 12th and 18th after being P2 and P3 in FP1.

Leclerc’s time in FP 2 time of 1:20:978 was 1.5 seconds slower on damp conditions than Raikkonen’s world record time for the fastest lap in Formula One set here in 2018, but come Saturday, the Ferraris could well challenge last year’s qualifying time.

Ferrari’s de facto leader Sebastian Vettel who is chasing his first win since Belgium 2018, was once again off-colour as he struggled with eighth in FP1 and third in FP2, 2 tenths behind Leclerc. Vettel has been out-qualified in the last five races by the 21-year-old Leclerc who is in just his second season in F1.

(The writer is in Monza at the invitation of Petronas)

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 10:40:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/motorsport/charles-leclerc-sets-the-pace-by-topping-practice-sessions/article29355059.ece

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