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George Russell

Russell offers Mercedes hope by topping FP2 at Imola

Mercedes' George Russell set the quickest time of a fully dry second practice session at the Imola circuit ahead of Saturday's Sprint race.

Russell Imola
To news overview © XPB Images

George Russell has shown some of Mercedes' potential, as the British driver set the pace in the second practice session at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

With parc ferme conditions in place from the start of qualifying on Friday, the second practice session didn't allow the teams to make any set-up changes.

This meant the focus of the one hour of track time was on tyre evaluations and longer runs ahead of the Sprint race on Saturday afternoon, given that the weather had fully cleared up from Friday's wet and wild conditions.

After Pierre Gasly set the early pace for AlphaTauri, the two Red Bulls quickly moved their way to the front, with Sergio Perez just ahead of Max Verstappen.

Using the Soft tyres, Perez set a 1:19.8 but, halfway through the hour, Mercedes began to show some strong pace on the Softs.

Russell set a 1:19.457 to take over at the front, with Hamilton slotting into third place and half a second down on his teammate – the seven-time World Champion could be heard on team radio complaining about the rear tyres getting too hot as he struggled with tyre graining.

Result Free practice 2 - Emilia Romagna

# Driver Team Time Tyre
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Ferrari join in at the front

Having had an understated session for most of the track time, Ferrari left it until the final 15 minutes to start putting in some stronger laps.

Using the Softs, Leclerc popped in a 1:19.740 to go second behind Russell, while Sainz used the Mediums to go sixth and nine-tenths down on Russell.

With just 10 minutes remaining in the session, Perez showed plenty of pace on the Mediums to set a new personal best and move into second, and 0.081s down on Russell.

After the dramas of Friday, the session proved to be quite low-key and methodical across the field. As the chequered flag fell, Russell's time on the Softs went unbeaten, with Perez's time on the Mediums all but matching the Mercedes.

Leclerc was third, ahead of Hamilton and Alpine's Fernando Alonso – all on the Soft tyres.

Following his qualifying crash, Sainz finished the session in sixth, with pole-sitter Verstappen in seventh ahead of AlphaTauri pair Yuki Tsunoda and Gasly.

Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu rounded out the top 10 positions.

Problems for some of the drivers

There were issues for several drivers that compromised their sessions.

After his technical problem in qualifying, Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas didn't take part in the session as the team worked away on his car to ensure that it's ready to take part in the Sprint race. FIA documentation has confirmed that the Finn has had a change of chassis, necessitating the hard work from Alfa Romeo.

McLaren had issues with both of their cars, with Daniel Ricciardo failing to appear on track due to a power unit issue on his MCL36.

Lando Norris did manage to get on track to put in a time, but encountered a consistent brake system issue that meant he spent most of the session in the garage.

In the bottom half of the field, Kevin Magnussen finished in 12th but will start Saturday's race from fourth place, while Haas teammate Mick Schumacher was 13th and a quarter of a second behind the Dane.

Sebastian Vettel, who got Aston Martin into Q3 on Friday and will start the Sprint from eighth, failed to show much pace in FP2 and wound up in 15th at the chequered flag.

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