Australian GP: Encouraging signs from Ferrari as Charles Leclerc blitzes competition in FP2

Michelle Foster
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc running close to the wall

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc running close to the wall

After back-to-back Max Verstappen wins, there were encouraging signs from Charles Leclerc in Melbourne as he finished FP2 almost four tenths up on the Red Bull driver.

On a day when Red Bull weren’t able to gain a stranglehold on their rivals, it was Leclerc who set the pace by 0.381s ahead of the World Champion with Carlos Sainz third fastest.

Australian Grand Prix FP2: Charles Leclerc comfortable in P1

The session began one driver short after Alex Albon’s FP1 crash damaged all four corners of his Williams FW46 and its gearbox, the team revealing he would not be back on the track before Saturday’s running.

With the track temperature a few degrees hotter, honorary Australian Valtteri Bottas was the first driver out on the track ahead of Sergio Perez. The latter’s team-mate was not expected for several minutes as Red Bull worked on Verstappen’s car.

The drivers ventured out on the medium tyres with Fernando Alonso setting the benchmark time of a 1:19.4. Unlike in the earlier session where there was a mix of softs and mediums, the first 30 minutes of FP2 saw all 19 drivers running the mediums.

Perez replaced Alonso up in P1 before Leclerc hit the front followed by Lando Norris and then Leclerc again, a 1:17.936. But 20 minutes into the session, Verstappen had yet to leave the pits due to a broken floor. recommends

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Logan Sargeant, in some doubt for the weekend given Williams don’t have a spare chassis for his team-mate Albon, went spinning, George Russell complained about Sainz being in the way, and Lance Stroll twitched but still went P1.

The Aston Martin driver laid down a 1:17.8 to sit a tenth up on his team-mate with Leclerc in third place heading into the second half of the session. Bolting on a new set of soft tyres, the Ferrari driver hit the front with a 1:17.4.

A hot lap for Verstappen was wrecked by a slow Zhou Guanyu, and with a few sweary words in the mix he backed off, leaving him down in P9. He improved to fifth on his next lap on the mediums with the Dutchman yet to do a soft tyre run.

Ferrari made it a one-two with 20 minutes remaining as Sainz, putting aside any aches and pains he may be feeling, shot up to second place behind Leclerc. The team-mates were separated by 0.430s, both on the soft tyres.

Swapping to the soft tyres, Verstappen moved up to second place but was still 0.381s down on Leclerc’s best time.

Sainz, recovering from an appendectomy, was third ahead of Stroll, Alonso and George Russell. As for Hamilton, who was woefully off the pace, he told Mercedes “something is wrong.”

As for F1’s two Aussie drivers, Oscar Piastri was seventh with Daniel Ricciardo P12. Honorary Aussie Bottas was 14th.


1 Charles LECLERC 1:17.277
2 Max VERSTAPPEN +0.381
3 Carlos SAINZ +0.430
4 Lance STROLL +0.545
5 Fernando ALONSO +0.635
6 George RUSSELL +0.674
7 Oscar PIASTRI +0.800
8 Sergio PEREZ +0.813
9 Lando NORRIS +0.878
10 Yuki TSUNODA +0.911
11 Guanyu ZHOU +1.144
12 Daniel RICCIARDO +1.257
13 Logan SARGEANT +1.301
14 Valtteri BOTTAS +1.308
15 Pierre GASLY +1.414
16 Nico HULKENBERG +1.425
17 Esteban OCON +1.428
18 Lewis HAMILTON +1.557
19 Kevin MAGNUSSEN +1.998
20 Alex ALBON no time

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