Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) leads second free practice session in rainy Australia
The Spanish driver Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) has finished on top of the second free practice of the Australian Grand Prix, third round of the Formula 1 World Championship and held at the Albert Park Circuit, in a session with rain as protagonist, preventing the teams to test long runs, with a ‘podium’ completed by the Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and the Dutch Max Verstappen (Red Bull).
Max Verstappen (Red Bull) started strong.
In the first run, ‘Mad Max’ gave no truce and dominated without excessive problems, with Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) almost half a second behind after a great last lap, and ‘Checo’ Perez (Red Bull) in third position at half a second. In that first test, Alonso was fourth and Sainz, sixth, although close to the lead.
Rain in the second session
Although the rain did not appear in the first session, the second one started with the threat of the first drops over Melbourne. This meant that the drivers wasted no time in leaving the box to make the most of the dry conditions, which only lasted for the first half hour of the session.
Carlos Sainz made a good time… but Verstappen imposed his law
Carlos Sainz was the first to record the fastest time (1:20.378) with medium tires, the same tires with which Alonso followed him closely, just one tenth. However, Ferrari’s dominance did not last too long, as Verstappen also with medium tires imposed his law under 1:20, six tenths faster than the Spaniard.
Red Bull did not expect the ‘Alonso effect’.
But Red Bull did not expect the ‘Alonso effect’, as in his second attempt the two-time world champion achieved an exceptional 1:18.887, even improving the fastest time of the second free practice of last season, to climb to the top. A time with which he would not get off the top in the whole session.
Very complicated asphalt
Before the intensity of the rain increased considerably, ruining the plans of the teams, Leclerc (1:19.332) and Verstappen (1:19.502) managed to lower their times to accompany the Asturian at the head of this second free practice session. After the first quarter of an hour of practice, the rain caused about ten minutes of inactivity, with the asphalt very complicated. George Russell (Mercedes) and Ferrari went out to examine the track and found that driving on those conditions was very complex. And the situation got worse and worse, so the pre-rain times were the ‘valid’ times of this second session.
Hamilton could only finish thirteenth
Russell slipped into fourth place seven tenths behind the Asturian, while Sainz, who had a little scare, finished fifth, eight tenths behind Alonso and two of Leclerc, confirming, for the moment, that Ferrari presents an improved package in Australia. The top 10 was completed by Esteban Ocon (Alpine), ‘Checo’ Perez, Lando Norris (McLaren), Nico Hülkenberg (Haas) and Pierre Gasly (Alpine). Hamilton could only be thirteenth, almost a second and a half off the lead.