Charles Leclerc quickest for Ferrari in Austalian GP FP2

Charles Leclerc quickest for Ferrari in Austalian GP FP2

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc set the fastest lap of FP2, beating defending world champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull by almost four tenths of a second at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit, as Carlos Sainz finished third in the other Ferrari, just five hundredths of a second behind Verstappen. 


Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Pérez set the first time of the session, posting a lap of 1:20.434 on Medium compound C4 tyres but that soon bypassed as a slew of drivers and it was Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso who set the early benchmark with a lap of 1:19.412, also on Mediums. 


Local hero Oscar Piastri then dislodged the Spaniard but Alonso was already onto his second lap and he reclaimed P1 as he dipped below 1m19s to post a lap of 1:18.805. His team-mate Lance Stroll then claimed P2 with a 1:18.979. The Astons were then split by FP1’s quickest man, Lando Norris, who went three thousandths of a second quicker than Stroll. 


Just before the quarter-hour mark Pérez rose to the top of the order a little over a tenth clear of Alonso, but the Mexican was quickly deposed by first Charles Leclerc who took his Ferrari SF24 to 1:18.265 and then by Norris who set the pace at 1:18.201. 


There was a worrying moment for Logan Sargeant, the Williams driver going wide over the kerb at Turn 11 and spinning through 360 degrees. Fortunately he managed to avoid the walls and was able to continue. The American drivers team-mate Alex Albon was not on track however, with repairs to the Thai driver’s FW44 sidelining him from the session. 


Just before the end of the first third Leclerc moved back to the top of the order with a lap of 1:17.936, set on Mediums. 


Alonso then made the move to Soft compound C5 Pirelli tyres but though the Aston Martin driver went quickest in the opening sector, he lost time in the second sector and then locked up in the penultimate corner to only move to P2 on 1:18.127. 


The Spaniard eradicated the errors on his second attempt, however, and he moved to P1 with a lap of 1:17.912. Team-mate Stroll found more time on his own second attempt and he lowered the benchmark to 1:17.822. 


Up to this point there had been no sign of championship leader Max Verstappen. The Red Bull driver had been restricted to the garage with a floor change being required after he damaged his car by clouting a kerb in FP1. 


The 2023 Albert Park winner finally took to the track shortly before the halfway mark but a slide wide at the penultimate corner on his first flyer meant he only took P19 with a lap of 1:19.848 on Medium tyres. 


Just after the 30-minute mark Leclerc, on Soft tyres, seized control of P1 with a good lap of 1:17.423, setting purple times in all three sectors to move 0.399 clear of Stroll. Further back, Verstappen was still pounding around on Medium tyres and climbed to sixth place with a lap of 1:17.981, two places ahead of team-mate Pérez who wasn’t finding a comfort zone on Soft tyres. 


With 23 minutes remaining, Carlos Sainz moved closest to team-mate Leclerc, but though he slotted into P2 ahead of Stroll, the Spanish driver’s 1:17.70 left him more than four tenths off Leclerc. 


As the session entered its final third, ands with the bulk of the field shifting to long-run data gathering on Mediums, Verstappen at last shed his C4s for a set of Soft tyres and his opening flyer on the C5s propelled him up to P3 on exactly the same time as Sainz, though third due posting the time after the Ferrari driver. 


The Dutchman made another attempt, however, and this time he was able to move ahead Sainz, by just shy of five hundredths of a second, to claim P2. The champion’s time of 1:17.658 still left him 0.381s off Leclerc however.


That was the last action on Soft tyres. Verstappen headed back to the pit lane to fit a set of Mediums for the final nine minutes of the session and there were no further improvements. 


That left Leclerc in top spot ahead of the Dutchman, with Sainz third ahead of the Astons of Stroll and Alonso. George Russell was sixth for Mercedes ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, with Pérez in eighth ahead of Norris and the top 10 was rounded out by RB’s Yuki Tsunoda who ended the session 0.911 off top spot. 


2024 FIA Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:17.277 26 245.879
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:17.658 0.381 21 244.672
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:17.707 0.430 25 244.518
4 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:17.822 0.545 29 244.157
5 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:17.912 0.635 31 243.875
6 George Russell Mercedes 1:17.951 0.674 24 243.753
7 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:18.077 0.800 29 243.359
8 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Racing 1:18.090 0.813 33 243.319
9 Lando Norris McLaren 1:18.155 0.878 23 243.116
10 Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:18.188 0.911 27 243.014
11 Zhou Guanyu Kick Sauber 1:18.421 1.144 32 242.292
12 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:18.534 1.257 30 241.943
13 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:18.578 1.301 23 241.808
14 Valtteri Bottas Kick Sauber 1:18.585 1.308 32 241.786
15 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:18.691 1.414 33 241.460
16 Nico Hülkenberg Haas 1:18.702 1.425 28 241.427
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:18.705 1.428 32 241.417
18 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:18.834 1.557 23 241.022
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:19.275 1.998 31 239.682

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