Sports: F1 Australian GP: Leclerc beats Verstappen to top FP2

LECLERC stages: Why the Red Bull came from behind so came

 LECLERC stages: Why the Red Bull came from behind so came © Motorsport Images Max Stapen was at this moment by 45 km / h faster than Charles Leclerc the puzzle over the extreme speed difference at the end of the start-target straight The duel between Charles Leclerc and Max Stapen in Bahrain is solved. For before the Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia, Ferrari pilot Leclerc revealed that ultimately the state of its battery was crucial for the bad topspeed at the end of the straight line.

FP1 pace-setter Carlos Sainz Jr finished third ahead of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, while George Russell was the top Mercedes driver in 11th as Lewis Hamilton finished 13th.

In nearly 10°C cooler conditions compared to the first practice session at Albert Park on Friday – thanks to dark rain clouds building over Melbourne ahead of the one-hour afternoon running – Sainz led the way during the early running on the harder tyre compounds before his team-mate and then Verstappen edged ahead during their later fliers on the softs.

Valtteri Bottas established the first place benchmark at 1m21.852s with an early run on the medium tyres, before he was deposed in quick succession by McLaren pair Lando Norris and then Daniel Ricciardo.

F1 Australian GP: Sainz fastest as Ferrari lead Red Bull in FP1

  F1 Australian GP: Sainz fastest as Ferrari lead Red Bull in FP1 Carlos Sainz Jr comfortably had the measure of Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc and the Red Bull duo to top first practice ahead of Formula 1’s 2022 Australian Grand Prix.The Spaniard romped to a 1m19.806s to unsurprisingly smash the existing lap record set on the previous configuration, a 1m20.486s as posted by Lewis Hamilton on his way to pole in 2019.

As the opening five minutes drew to a close, Leclerc shot ahead on a 1m20.898s on the mediums, which he beat a few minutes later with a 1m20.523s.

Valtteri Bottas then slotted into first with a 1m20.432s – also set on the mediums – before Leclerc, his long early run on the yellow-walled rubber continuing, forged ahead again with a 1m20.175s.

But just past the 10-minute mark, Sainz’s 1m19.979s put him into first for the first time, with that lap on the mediums remaining as the best until 10 minutes later – when the Ferrari drivers led the switch to the softs.

Leclerc got back ahead on his first run on the red-walled rubber – a 1m19.771s – albeit with no purple sectors and losing a chunk of time with a slide at the penultimate corner.

Sainz, who had to back out of his first flier on the softs after encountering Yuki Tsunoda going slowly on the racing line through the second corner, then nipped back in front with a 1m19.568s.

F1 Australian GP: Norris leads FP3 as both Aston Martins crash out

  F1 Australian GP: Norris leads FP3 as both Aston Martins crash out Lando Norris topped final practice for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix as both Aston Martin cars crashed out and caused red flags at Albert Park.After missing the opening two races of the season due to COVID-19, Vettel’s difficult return to action in Australia continued as he crashed out 20 minutes into the session.

Alonso broke the Ferrari dominance at the front with a 1m19.537s just before the halfway point, but just a few moments later Leclerc – who had been through the pits before continuing on the softs – demoted him with a new best of 1m19.487s.

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522 © Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Sainz continued the exchange of best times with Leclerc as he then posted a 1m19.376s, but the championship leader then surged ahead definitively with a third flying lap on another set of softs with 25 minutes to go.

After posting what would stand as the quickest time in the first sector, Leclerc roared to a 1m18.978s to gain the upper hand on Sainz for the first time so far in practice for this event.

All through the Ferrari drivers exchanging best times on the softs – particularly during their later runs – Verstappen was doing his own work to build up to a best time on that compound.

F1 Australian Grand Prix – Start time, how to watch, & more

  F1 Australian Grand Prix – Start time, how to watch, & more Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will start from pole position for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park. Here's how and when you can watch the race.Leclerc was however summoned to the stewards for driving too slowly back to the pits during Q1, the same accusation levied at Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu.

Having been well down the order during the early running on the mediums, the world champion climbed into the battle for the top with his first softs flier, which was compromised by encountering Esteban Ocon and Hamilton through the super-fast left/right section of Turns 9/10 at the start of the final sector.

Verstappen’s second go on the softs, where he had more traffic trouble at Turns 9/10, left him 0.408s down on Leclerc’s best time overall, but he made steady progress with two more efforts.

On his third softs flier, Verstappen posted a purple sector in the middle third of the lap, but had to back off late on after sliding off the exit kerbs for the Turn 12 right and then having bounced back onto the track locking up and sliding deep at the final corner.

A few minutes later Verstappen went even quicker in the middle sector and was able to complete the lap this time, finishing 0.245s to Leclerc and stealing ahead of Sainz, with the Red Bull appearing to lose time understeering through the final two turns.

The attention then switched to the typical late-FP2 race run data gathering, which was interrupted by a red flag with 10 minutes to go by the front part of the top wheel cover fairing on Lance Stroll’s car blowing off and landing on the exit kerbs at Turn 12.

LECLERC celebrates start-target victory - debacle for stages

 LECLERC celebrates start-target victory - debacle for stages charles leclerc exits in ferraris new miracle car the luxury world champion max stages in the title fight of the formula 1. © Provided by leclerc celebrates start-target victory - debacle for Stappen One-Man Show in Down Under: Charles Leclec sponsored in Ferraris New miracle car the luckless world champion Max stages in the title fight of Formula 1.

When the session resumed, the Ferrari drivers were spotted – and heard – porpoising considerably all the way through the swooping new run of shallow corners heading into the Turns 9/10 complex.

Sergio Perez’s final run on the softs popped him in between Alonso and Ocon, with Bottas ending up seventh – his running on the softs featuring a big Turn 1 lock up and trip through the gravel behind Turn 2.

Norris took eighth ahead of Pierre Gasly and Ricciardo, with Russell 11th for Mercedes – 1.234s slower than Leclerc’s best time.

George Russell, Mercedes W13 © George Russell, Mercedes W13

George Russell, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Hamilton was a further 0.3s back, with the seven-time world champion having a major off-track moment during the early running. As he shot through Turn 12 during a lap on the mediums, Hamilton had to catch two oversteer snaps – the second of which sent him skating across the gravel trap at the corner’s exit.

Stroll came in just behind Hamilton and faces two post-session investigations for apparently impeding the Briton and Sainz in separate incidents during the initial laps.

The other Aston Martin – back in Sebastian Vettel’s hands this weekend after his COVID-19 enforced absences in Bahrain and Jeddah – took no part in FP2 following its smoky engine problem late in FP1.

The team had been swapping in a fresh engine, but ran out of time to get the four-time world champion out for the second session.

Vettel will also see the stewards now FP2 has concluded regarding his on-track scooter drive back to the pits following FP1’s conclusion and his car being stranded.

F1 Australian Grand Prix - FP2 results

Results to follow

Verstappen: No clear fix for Red Bull's early season F1 struggles .
Max Verstappen says there is no “clear fix” for Red Bull’s early Formula 1 struggles in 2022 after retiring for the second time in three races in Australia on Sunday.Verstappen also failed to finish the season-opener in Bahrain last month due to a separate fuel pump problem, causing him to lose significant ground in the early title battle.

See also