Leclerc keeps Ferrari on top in Practice 2 at Australian GP

Charles Leclerc. Picture: Scuderia Ferrari Twitter

Charles Leclerc has given Scuderia Ferrari a sweep of Friday practice at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.

After the Prancing Horse went one-two in the opening session, Leclerc topped Practice 2 at Albert Park with a 1:18.978s while team-mate Carlos Sainz ended up third on a 1:19.376s.

Splitting them was Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen on a 1:19.223s, while Alpine’s Fernando Alonso ended up fourth on a 1:19.537s.

Under dark clouds, the bulk of the field headed out on medium compound (C3) tyres for their opening runs, with McLaren’s Lando Norris quickest early on a 1:21.852s.

Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo briefly held top spot with a 1:21.793s, before Leclerc logged a 1:20.898s and then a 1:20.523s in the first nine minutes.

Alfa Romeo Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas upped the pace to a 1:20.432s in the 10th minute, but Leclerc quickly reclaimed the ascendancy with a 1:20.175s.

Sainz had set the pace in Practice 1 with a 1:19.809s and was the first to come particularly close to that marker when he drove his Ferrari to a 1:19.979s in the 13th minute.

As the session wore towards the 20-minute mark, Sainz was quickest from Leclerc, Bottas, Alonso on a 1:20.515s, and Ricciardo on a 1:20.603s.

It was then that drivers started to switch to softs (C5), although Sainz was baulked at Turn 2 by the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda just as he started his next flying lap.

Leclerc was thus the first to reset the fastest time for the day when he rolled out a 1:19.771s on his initial set of soft compound tyres for the session, although his Spanish team-mate went to a 1:19.568s next time through.

It was another Spaniard in Alonso who soon moved the pace to a 1:19.537s, not long after Bottas had pinched a brake and gone off at Turn 1.

However, Alonso’s time in first position was brief, with Leclerc clocking a 1:19.487s and then Sainz a 1:19.376s, the latter on another set of softs, at the halfway point of the session.

Verstappen had complained earlier of struggling through high-speed corners, but he at least moved the #1 Red Bull entry to fourth with a 1:19.812s in the 32nd minute.

Leclerc had improved to first on a 1:18.978s and Verstappen to third on a 1:19.386s when the latter was threatening to usurp the former as he set the fastest second sector.

The Dutchman spoiled that lap by running wide at Turn 13, the penultimate corner, but regrouped well enough to move up a spot with a 1:19.223s with just under 20 minutes to go.

A red flag was called with little more than 10 minutes left on the clock, after Lance Stroll ran over the exit kerb at Turn 12 and his Aston Martin shed part of its left wheel brow.

At that point, the top five was Leclerc, Verstappen, Sainz, Alonso, and Sergio Perez (Red Bull) on a 1:19.658s.

The rest of the top 10 was Esteban Ocon (Alpine) on a 1:19.842s, Bottas on a 1:20.055s, Norris on a 1:20.100s, Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) on a 1:20.142s, and Ricciardo on a 1:20.203s.

By then, however, the serious push laps were done, and the field had largely switched to long runs, meaning there would be no advance on those times.

George Russell was first of the Mercedes duo on a 1:20.212s which was only good enough for 11th, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who had an early off at Turn 12, two positions further back on a 1:20.521s.

Hamilton has also been summoned to stewards for allegedly impeding Stroll during the session, and the Canadian likewise for an incident with Sainz.

Sebastian Vettel, whose opening session came to an early end with a power unit issue for his Aston Martin, did not head out at all in Practice 2.

The third and final practice session of the weekend takes place tomorrow from 13:00 local time/AEST.

Results: Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, Free Practice 2

Pos Num Driver Team Laps Time Diff
1 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari 27 1:18.978
2 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 22 1:19.223 +0.245s
3 55 Carlos Sainz Scuderia Ferrari 27 1:19.376 +0.398s
4 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Team 22 1:19.537 +0.559s
5 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 20 1:19.658 +0.680s
6 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team 25 1:19.842 +0.864s
7 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo F1 Team 25 1:20.055 +1.077s
8 4 Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team 24 1:20.100 +1.122s
9 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri 27 1:20.142 +1.164s
10 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Team 24 1:20.203 +1.225s
11 63 George Russell Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 25 1:20.212 +1.234s
12 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri 30 1:20.424 +1.446s
13 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 23 1:20.521 +1.543s
14 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin F1 Team 28 1:20.611 +1.633s
15 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo F1 Team 23 1:21.063 +2.085s
16 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team 23 1:21.191 +2.213s
17 23 Alexander Albon Williams Racing 28 1:21.912 +2.934s
18 47 Mick Schumacher Haas F1 Team 22 1:21.974 +2.996s
19 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing 24 1:22.307 +3.329s

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