The Monza polesitter set a 1m32.120s to lead the session in the middle of the race phase on soft tyres, which withstood Leclerc’s siege despite Sainz’s inferior first and second sectors.
Being scheduled at the same time of day as qualifying and the race, FP2 was considered the only representative practice session, as the track had cooled down under the night sky.
Leclerc set the pace on the medium compound in his final run on yellowwall tyres, nullifying teammate Sainz’s lead at the top by around a quarter of a second, as the Spaniard had largely dominated the top of the timing boards at the beginning. Phases of the session.
Sainz had previously eclipsed short-seeded Fernando Alonso with a 1:33.303, which he had reduced to 1:33.213 in his next fast run, but Leclerc was first under the 1:33 range with his 1:32.974.
This preceded a short break in the race before the peloton returned to the circuit on the soft compound to simulate their qualifying runs as track conditions cooled further.
Sainz was ahead of Leclerc on the road and had to endure the Monegasque outshining him by a hair in his first two sectors, but he still set the benchmark of 1m32.120s.
Leclerc then suffered a snap at Turns 18 and 19 and went off the curb moments before crossing the start-finish line, costing him the small margin he had built and leaving him falling short by 0.018s.
The Ferraris did a second lap on the softs, but neither driver improved and their times remained at the top of the timing charts for the rest of the session.
George Russell came closest to them, as he was 0.235 seconds off the pace, despite some stray moments behind the wheel of his Mercedes W14. His effort took Alonso out of the top three, as the two-time champion had to content himself with fourth place in the overall order.
Four-time Singapore Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton was fifth fastest ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris, who was fully equipped with the Woking team’s latest upgrade package.
Meanwhile, the Red Bulls were unable to find any significant rhythm at the front and struggled especially with a wayward rear. In one of his first runs on the medium tire, Verstappen couldn’t get his RB19 to bite the apex of Turn 13 and then went wide on the exit while lighting up the rear wheels.
Teammate Sergio Pérez also struggled with a nervous car, complaining that “in every braking zone I feel like I’m going to crash,” but he still outperformed his championship-leading teammate.
Nordic duo Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas completed the top 10, the Finn serving as meat in a Haas sandwich while Nico Hulkenberg took 11th overall.
Alex Albon strengthened the order after setting his fastest lap on the hard tyre, as a power unit issue meant the London-born Thai was unable to run a representative qualifying simulation on the soft tyres.