It's a boiling asphalt that welcomes the Formula 1 cars in the Free Practice 2 session. 50 degrees of track temperature lower the grip massively, causing tricking conditions for the drivers, as we heard in particular from Charles Leclerc's team radio.
Halfway through the session Ferrari secured a virtual front row lock up, situation which froze to the checkered flag. Charles Leclerc leads the pack on a time of 1:13".449, 124 thousands clear of team-mate Sebastian Vettel who was actually running on a medium compound of tyres. In third position sits Lewis Hamilton, with a gap 0"146 from the lead. Valtteri Bottas occupies the other place on the second row, missing more than 6 tenths from the Monegasque. While Mercedes struggles a little bit with the balance of the car, Max Verstappen's Red Bull came back to the pits because of a loss of power. After a quarter of hour of working on the #33 Red Bull car, the Dutchman was back on track to secure a provisional fifth position.
What at that point hadn't been an eventful session, came suddendly alive first because of Nico Hulkenberg stalling his Renault car at the end of the pitlane during a start practice, then for a quite big impact for Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman lost his car on the last corner due to a snap of oversteer and crashed on the barriers, heavily damaging the left side of his Red Bull. Not the ideal FP2 session for Pierre that was already sitting in 15th position.
The red flag was waved and the session resumed ten minutes later, with only nine minutes to spare. Many drivers got then back on track for a last run. A final stint that saw Leclerc unhappy with the rear of his Ferrari. "There's something strage", the Monegasque complains.
At the end of the session, Ferrari leads over Mercedes, with Max Verstappen in fifth position followed by Grosjean and Stroll. The Swiss driver though, complains for a loss of power on the last cool down lap of the session. Haas crew may therefore be busy in the next hours.
The top ten is then closed by Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez.
So the red painted cars look the ones to beat, but weather forecats expect rain to come both for tomorrow and for Sunday, so the cards on the table may be shuffled in Mercedes' favour.