Max Verstappen’s torrid Imola weekend continues as Charles Leclerc tops FP2

Charles Leclerc repeated his FP1 performance in FP2 at Imola, topping the session with Max Verstappen and Red Bull continuing to flounder

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Charles Leclerc led Oscar Piastri at the top of the Imola timesheets in FP2 at the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as Red Bull and Max Verstappen continued to struggle after surprisingly finding themselves on the ropes in FP1.

On the weekend that he juggles his Formula 1 commitments with a 24-hour sim race, Verstappen will hope his virtual racing goes better than the reality has so far as he continued to show no competitive pace in the RB20 and was over half a second behind Leclerc.

Tsunoda could find himself in trouble after pulling up right at the end of the pitlane to perform a practice start in the middle of the session, but the RB driver at least produced a positive performance on the leaderboard for his team’s home race.

Tsunoda finished third narrowly ahead of both Mercedes – with George Russell in fifth just a 0.025 seconds behind – but the trio was four tenths behind Leclerc with runner-up Piastri bisecting that gap.

Carlos Sainz was seventh ahead of the two Red Bulls led by Verstappen, a tenth ahead of Sergio Perez, while Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top 10.

And after Alex Albon‘s machine packed up in FP1, Williams‘ struggles continued with Logan Sargeant driving a limited run plan rooted to the bottom of the timesheets and Albon‘s start to the session delayed with the FW46 requiring further fixes before he left the garade..

Red Bull continue to tread water at Imola

Max Verstappen during practice ahead of the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen during practice ahead of the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

With 20 minutes to go, Verstappen took his frustration out on Lewis Hamilton for leaving him in dirty air as the Dutchman cut across the front of his former nemesis to show his displeasure, but that could be nothing compared to the Red Bull debrief tonight.

Never one to hold his tongue when dissatisfied with his machinery, Verstappen voiced a string of radio messages complaining of low grip on the front of the RB20 with Perez less vocal but no quicker.

After repeated trips to the gravel traps in FP1, Verstappen had at least seemed to clean up his laps of Imola – but that didn’t last as he ran well wide at the penultimate corner with five minutes left in session.

Even the current kings of sandbagging will surely need drastic changes overnight if they’re to return to the top step of the podium in Italy.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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