Melbourne, FP2: Leclerc takes over at the top in Australia

Ahead of Verstappen, Sainz


By Olivier Ferret

8 April 2022 - 09:17
Melbourne, FP2: Leclerc takes over (...)

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.

01 Charles Leclerc Ferrari F1-75 1:18.978 27
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:19.223 22
03 Carlos Sainz Ferrari F1-75 1:19.376 27
04 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A522 1:19.537 22
05 Sergio Perez Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:19.658 20
06 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A522 1:19.842 25
07 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:20.055 25
08 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:20.100 24
09 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:20.142 27
10 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:20.203 24
11 George Russell Mercedes W13 1:20.212 25
12 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:20.424 30
13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W13 1:20.521 23
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:20.611 28
15 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:21.063 23
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:21.191 23
17 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW44 1:21.912 28
18 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:21.974 22
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW44 1:22.307 24
20 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 -:—.--- 0

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