Hamilton fastest as Ferrari keeps its powder dry

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes ended second practice fastest with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas setting almost identical times to end the session almost a second clear of third placed Max Verstappen at Albert Park.

Red Bull was third and fourth from Sebastian Vettel in fifth, though none of them were within eight tenths of the pace set by Hamilton and Bottas out front.

Charles Leclerc had a late spin when he bottomed the Ferrari out on the kerb at Turn 4, looping around and coming to rest harmlessly on the side of the track.

Alexander Albon and Antonio Giovinazzi also had spins, in their case at the penultimate corner when they had separate spins onto the grass before carrying on.

Kimi Raikkonen impressed in the Alfa Romeo in sixth while Daniel Ricciardo finished the 90-minute session in one spot behind team-mate Nico Hulkenberg in eighth.

Leclerc was then ninth from Romain Grosjean, who rounded out the top 10.

The Frenchman, who was one of the last out in Practice 1, became the first to set a lap with a 1:25.634 in Practice 2.

It lasted at the top of the sheets for only a few minutes, with both Sergio Perez and then Pierre Gasly going faster.

Times continued to gradually tumble before Mercedes stamped its authority on the session with Hamilton and Bottas both dropping into the 1:23s bracket.

The Mercedes pair then lowered the benchmark further into the low 1:23s, times set on the medium compound Pirelli tyre before Bottas dipped down to a 1:22.648s with the car seemingly still at a canter.

Hamilton’s lap shortly afterwards proved just 0.048s faster than his team-mate, and would remain untroubled at the top of the timesheets for the balance of the session.

Ricciardo’s entry into the session was delayed as Renault worked inside the cockpit of his car, before finally turning a 1:25.220s which left him 11th fastest on his first timed lap.

As the session wore on both Ricciardo and Hulkenberg found their way into the top 10, remaining among the likes of more fancied runners from the likes of Red Bull, and Ferrari.

Just 1.3s covered the field from third to Lando Norris in 18th, while Williams again languished at the back more than 1.7s slower again.

In this instance it was George Russell ahead of Robert Kubica, the pair banking 65 laps between them for the team which missed the opening part of pre-season testing.

Despite Mercedes’ apparent dominance of the session the pecking order remains unclear, with Ferrari not showing its hand at all in Practice 2.

Conversely the midfield seems even more congested that first predicted, with Alfa Romeo, Renault, and Haas looking the likely favourites in the mid-pack.

A final 60-minute practice session remains for teams, coming up at 1400 AEDT on Saturday.

Results: Australian Grand Prix, Practice 2

Pos Num Driver Team Time Diff Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:22.600 33
2 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:22.648 +0.048s 33
3 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA 1:23.400 +0.800s 33
4 10 Pierre Gasly RED BULL RACING HONDA 1:23.442 +0.842s 31
5 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:23.473 +0.873s 35
6 7 Kimi Räikkönen ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 1:23.572 +0.972s 40
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:23.574 +0.974s 37
8 3 Daniel Ricciardo RENAULT 1:23.644 +1.044s 31
9 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 1:23.754 +1.154s 35
10 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:23.814 +1.214s 37
11 26 Daniil Kvyat SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:23.933 +1.333s 36
12 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:23.988 +1.388s 27
13 18 Lance Stroll RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 1:24.011 +1.411s 38
14 55 Carlos Sainz MCLAREN RENAULT 1:24.133 +1.533s 26
15 99 Antonio Giovinazzi ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 1:24.293 +1.693s 37
16 11 Sergio Perez RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 1:24.401 +1.801s 34
17 23 Alexander Albon SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:24.675 +2.075s 40
18 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN RENAULT 1:24.733 +2.133s 26
19 63 George Russell WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:26.453 +3.853s 32
20 88 Robert Kubica WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:26.655 +4.055s 33

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