Will an extension of the main straight DRS zone to start 60m before the Turn 19 kink instead of at the finish line make much difference? It might do if someone makes an error out of the second Rivazza but, if they don’t, probably not.
Ferrari looked much racier close to home in cooler conditions. Charles Leclerc’s FP2 hot lap on Friday would actually have topped the session had it not been deleted for exceeding the Piratella track limits by just 10cm. He also blotted his copybook when a snap on entry to Rivazza 2 put the Ferrari into the wall while pushing on a long run just a couple of minutes before the end of the session.
But there is no denying Ferrari’s improved underlying pace in both qualifying and race trim. When it mattered Charles matched his Bahrain qualifying performance and put the No16 Ferrari on the second row alongside Verstappen, pipping Pierre Gasly’s AphaTauri by just 0.05sec.
Five-hundredths is not a lot given the disparity in budget/resource between the might of Maranello and the little Faenza team based just 20 minutes and 15.5kms away from the circuit gates, down the SS9.
Gasly reckoned it was the strongest Friday he could remember as he finished FP2 just 0.07sec from Bottas’s session-topping pace, with rookie team-mate Yuki Tsunoda backing him up with seventh.
When Hideki Matsuyama became the first Asian winner of the Masters golf in Augusta last weekend, Yuki got plenty of messages from Japanese fans telling him that it would be his turn next. And certainly, you thought of Tsunoda and his attacking style as you watched Matsuyama go for the green instead of laying up with his second shot to the Par 5 15th as he enjoyed a four-shot lead in the Masters final round with just four holes to play.
The ball went in the water and Matsuyama scraped across the line by one shot! Yuki wasn’t so lucky. His similarly gung-ho approach to the chicane kerbs at the top of the hill put him into an irretrievable tank-slapper and damagingly backwards into the tyres. He starts tomorrow from the back…
While Leclerc had his Friday best deleted, poor Lando Norris lost his best lap when it mattered – in Q3.
McLaren was either downplaying its hopes or was as surprised at its ultimate pace as Perez. Both the team and Norris admitted that Imola had been a challenge last year and figured it might be more of the same. But there, P2 on Saturday morning was Lando, who had been a decent bit quicker than team-mate Ricciardo from the off.