LECLERC TAKES OVER AT THE TOP IN MELBOURNE AHEAD OF VERSTAPPEN, SAINZ
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc went quickest in the second practice for the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, beating early-season title rival Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing by more than two tenths of a second, with Carlos Sainz third in the other Ferrari.
The afternoon session got underway with a few drops of rain in the air but it had no effect on running and four minutes into the session McLaren’s Lando Norris set the early benchmark with a lap of 1:21.852. The Briton was soon bounced out of top spot by team-mate Ricciardo, who posted a lap of 1:21.793 to claim P1.
The McLaren drivers’ private battle was then disrupted by Ferrari, with Leclerc going quickest with a lap of 1:20.898. The Monegasque driver’s team-mate Carlos Sainz might have beaten that but after going quickest in the middle sector he made a mistake in Turn 13 and hit traffic in the latter stages of the lap. With 11 minutes on the clock, Alfa Romeo’s Vallteri Bottas, a 2019 winner here with Mercedes, jumped to the top of the order with a lap of 1:20.432.
The field began to make the move to soft tyres for performance runs as the first third of the session elapsed and Sainz vaulted to the top of the leaderboard with a time of 1:19.979. Leclerc slotted into second on 1m20.175s, with Bottas third thanks to his earlier time.
Sainz went for another lap on the soft tyres, but was forced to abandon the effort when he came across the slow moving AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda.
Leclerc, though, managed a clean lap and he rose to P1 with a lap of 1:19.771. Sainz wasn’t done, however, and with purple times in the first and third sector, the Spaniard posted a time of 1:19.568 to reclaim top spot.
The tussle between the two Ferrari drivers looked like it might define the session, but just before the midpoint of the session, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso popped up with a lap of 1:19.537 to claim P1.
The Ferraris were on track again, however, and Sainz once again took first place with a time of 1:19.376, with Leclerc second a tenth behind.
Bahrain GP winner Leclerc was still finding lap time however and he logged an impressive lap of 1m18.978 to once again make his way to P1 – and there he would stay until the chequered flag fell.
Verstappen, meanwhile, was having a more difficult session. Early on he complained of not being able to get his RB18 turned in and later on he struggled to get a clean lap on soft tyres with one run being disrupted by traffic and another being scuppered by a mistake in the penultimate corners. Eventually, though, he found a good lap but even though he ran quickest in the middle sector, he missed out on top spot with a lap of 1:19.223 that left him second to Leclerc by 0.245.
With the performance runs completed the field then moved back to harder compounds to explore longer runs in the time remaining. With 11 minutes remaining the red flags were briefly shown when part of Stroll’s front wing broke and came to rest on the track.
With Sainz third, Alonso was left with fourth place ahead of the second Red Bull of Pérez. Esteban Ocon took fifth in the second Alpine and Bottas ended the hour in P7. Norris finished eighth for McLaren with Pierre Gasly taking P9 for AlphaTauri ahead of the second McLaren of Ricciardo.
Further back, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, returning after sitting out the opening two events due to testing positive for COVID-19, also missed out on the second practice in Melbourne as his team couldn’t ready his car following the engine issue that had halted his progress late in the first practice session.
2022 FIA Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:18.978 27 240.583
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:19.223 0.245 22 239.839
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:19.376 0.398 27 239.377
4 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:19.537 0.559 22 238.892
5 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1:19.658 0.680 20 238.529
6 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:19.842 0.864 25 237.980
7 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:20.055 1.077 25 237.346
8 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:20.100 1.122 24 237.213
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Red Bull 1:20.142 1.164 27 237.089
10 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:20.203 1.225 24 236.908
11 George Russell Mercedes 1:20.212 1.234 25 236.882
12 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Red Bull 1:20.424 1.446 30 236.257
13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:20.521 1.543 23 235.973
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:20.611 1.633 28 235.709
15 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:21.063 2.085 23 234.395
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:21.191 2.213 23 234.025
17 Alexander Albon Williams/Mercedes 1:21.912 2.934 28 231.966
18 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:21.974 2.996 22 231.790
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:22.307 3.329 24 230.852
20 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes –
SAINZ HEADS FERRARI 1-2 IN OPENING PRACTICE FOR AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX
Carlos Sainz beat Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc to the top of the time sheet in the opening practice session for this weekend’s 2022 FIA Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix with Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez ahead of team-mate and defending World Champion Max Verstappen.
In a session twice halted by red flags, Sainz eventually posted a session-best time of 1:19.806 to finish more than half a second clear of Leclerc who had a late off track moment. Pérez ended the hour 0.593 off the lead Ferrari, while Verstappen was more than eight tenths adrift.
Pérez was the first to take to the heavily revised and resurfaced Albert Park circuit and the Mexican was swiftly followed by a field keen to get to grips with a new configuration that features a number of widened corners, a new high speed section and four DRS zones.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was the early pacesetter with a lap of 1:25.009 after just four minutes. Verstappen quickly usurped the Briton by posting a lap of 1:23.101 set on soft tyres. He then improved by almost 1.5 seconds as he worked his way into the new layout. The World Champion found more time on his next lap and then lowered the benchmark by a further two tenths of a second to secure P1 with a lap of 1:20.909 ahead of Norris and the hard tyre-shod Leclerc.
Pérez then brought out the red flags when his car shed debris in the final corner. The delay was short, however, and when running resumed Sainz emerged on the hard compound slot into second place, just 0.3s behind Verstappen, while Aston Martin’s Vettel jumped to third ahead of Pérez on soft tyres.
Continuing with the soft C5 compound tyres, Verstappen again improved, this time to 1:20.857, but Leclerc then took to the track on the same compound and he moved ahead of the Red Bull driver by the slim margin of three hundredths of a second.
The two early title protagonists then began to trade fastest times but Sainz then got involved and he took P1 with a lap of 1:20.325s. Leclerc’s Turn 1 mistake then allowed Sainz to improve to 1:19.806. Leclerc then had another off track moment late in the session. Perez stole third from Verstappen in the final moments.
With Verstappen fourth, fifth place went to Norris with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon sixth. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton finished in P7 ahead of McLaren’s local hero Daniel Ricciardo and the second Alpine of Fernando Alonso. The top 10 order was rounded out by Valtteri Bottas ahead of AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda and the second Mercedes of George Russell. Finished in 13th place, though he missed the final minutes of the session due to a power unit issue that left him stranded at the side of the track, causing a second short red flag period.
2022 FIA Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 24 1:19.806 239.215
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 21 1:20.377 0.571 0.571 237.515
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull 20 1:20.399 0.593 0.022 237.450
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 22 1:20.626 0.820 0.227 236.782
5 Lando Norris McLaren 22 1:20.878 1.072 0.252 236.044
6 Esteban Ocon Alpine 27 1:21.004 1.198 0.126 235.677
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 26 1:21.027 1.221 0.023 235.610
8 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 23 1:21.155 1.349 0.128 235.238
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine 21 1:21.229 1.423 0.074 235.024
10 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 23 1:21.247 1.441 0.018 234.972
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 26 1:21.289 1.483 0.042 234.850
12 George Russell Mercedes 26 1:21.457 1.651 0.168 234.366
13 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 18 1:21.661 1.855 0.204 233.781
14 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 26 1:21.701 1.895 0.040 233.666
15 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 21 1:21.821 2.015 0.120 233.323
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 24 1:21.869 2.063 0.048 233.187
17 Alex Albon Williams 25 1:22.754 2.948 0.885 230.693
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 18 1:23.186 3.380 0.432 229.495
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams 25 1:23.924 4.118 0.738 227.477
20 Mick Schumacher Haas 15 1:24.349 4.543 0.425 226.331