FP2: Leclerc breaks into the 1:18s to edge Verstappen

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc and a few sparks. Australia April 2022

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc from behind with a few sparks. Australia April 2022

Charles Leclerc broke into the 1:18s to set the pace in Friday’s second practice in Melbourne, a quarter of a second up on Max Verstappen.

Leclerc clocked a fastest lap time of 1:18.978 around the revamped Albert Park circuit with its 14 corners, finishing the session 0.245s up on Verstappen.

Carlos Sainz, informed mid-session that he had a reprimand for his FP1 impeding, was third fastest.

Friday’s second practice began with a few spots of rain falling as Valtteri Bottas put in the first lap and Verstappen waited in his car, Red Bull working on set-up changes for the reigning World Champion. Another driver sitting in the pits was Sebastian Vettel with Aston Martin changing his power unit after his FP1 failure.

As they did in today’s first session, McLaren led the early running with Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Lando Norris, but it didn’t last long before Leclerc hit the front with a 1:20.898 with Sainz second. The drivers were running the medium Pirelli tyres.

Sainz and Lance Stroll were noted by the stewards for impeding, although this time it was Stroll at fault with Sainz having already been reprimanded for his impeding incident against Guanyu Zhou in FP1.

Swapping to the soft Pirellis, the Ferrari drivers went even faster. Sainz’s first flying lap saw him have to bail out at the first corner with Yuki Tsunoda going slowly on the racing line. His next hot lap, purple in the first and third sectors, was a 1:19.568 with Leclerc joining his team-mate in the 1:19s, 0.203s down.

Verstappen ventured out for a five-lap run, the reigning World Champion P9 before heading back to the pits. “I still have the same issues,” he told Red Bull. “It is incredibly neutral in high speed, can’t turn the car in.”

With other drivers swapping their mediums for soft tyres, Fernando Alonso went quickest only to be dropped by the Ferraris, a 1:19.376 for Sainz which was 0.111s quicker than Leclerc’s improved time.

Esteban Ocon went fourth ahead of Norris, Pierre Gasly and Bottas. George Russell and Lewis Hamilton was eighth and ninth whil there there was still no sign of Vettel with half the session having been run.

Verstappen returned to the action on a set of soft tyres, the reigning World Champion going fourth but his time was over four-tenths down on Sainz’s best. His next lap had him leapfrog Alonso but he soon found himself again four-tenths down as Leclerc replaced Sainz at the top of the timesheet with a 1:18.978.

A mistake on Verstappen’s next lap ended with a “beep” and then he got it right, splitting the Ferraris.

Aston Martin announced with 15 minutes remaining that “despite the team’s best efforts” Vettel would not be out on track this session.

The red flags were out for first time in the session with 12 minutes to go when Lance Stroll mounted the kerb and lost a piece of his wheel brow off from the front left.

Leclerc had a bit of late session drama as he reported a “lot of air in the cockpit, in around my legs, is everything okay?” Ferrari told him they saw no sign of a problem and Leclerc continued laying down the laps.

He finished the session P1 with a 1:18.978, 0.245s up on Verstappen with Sainz third ahead of Alonso, Sergio Perez, and Ocon.

Local lad Ricciardo was P10 while Russell was 11th and Hamilton 13th, the latter 1.5s off the pace.


1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:18.978 27 laps (soft)
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.245s 22 laps (soft)
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.398s 26 laps (soft)
4 Fernando Alonso Alpine 0.559s 22 laps (soft)
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull 0.680s 20 laps (soft)
6 Esteban Ocon Alpine 0.864s 25 laps (soft)
7 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing 1.077s 25 laps (soft)
8 Lando Norris McLaren 1.122s 24 laps (soft)
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.164s 27 laps (soft)
10 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.225s 24 laps (soft)
11 George Russell Mercedes 1.234s 25 laps (soft)
12 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1.446s 30 laps (soft)
13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.543s 23 laps (soft)
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1.633s 28 laps (soft)
15 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing 2.085s 23 laps (soft)
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas 2.213s 23 laps (soft)
17 Alex Albon Williams 2.934s 28 laps (soft)
18 Mick Schumacher Haas 2.996s 22 laps (soft)
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams 3.329s 24 laps (soft)
20 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin no time


Australian Grand Prix practice round-up

The first two practice sessions are in the book and it's the Ferrari's again topping the timesheets in both sessions.