Fernando Alonso tops second practice for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso tops second practice for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso placed Aston Martin on the top of the times in the second practice session for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, ahead of George Russell and Max Verstappen.

Fernando Alonso topped as Aston Martin and Mercedes maintained their superb form from FP1 by dominating second practice for the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix which was incident-packed, highlighting the unpredictable situation off the track.

Following the intense questioning of Christian Horner during the team principal’s press conference in between practices, Alonso, the driver at the center of Formula 1’s other controversy, emerged on top in FP2, finishing two-tenths ahead of George Russell.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is currently under fire for allegedly reversing Alonso’s penalty in the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix which saw him finish ahead of Russell.

It was the first practice of the weekend to be held at night under floodlights; the weather was significantly cooler than opening practice, but there were still a lot of near-misses due to high gusts and on-track traffic.

There were no major incidents during the practice, which was delayed by ten minutes due to loose drain covers on the pit lane although Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas went for a harmless early spin while Lewis Hamilton struggled with a late decline in power.

The start of the one-hour session was delayed by ten minutes owing to a quick inspection and maintenance that was necessary since there were further concerns about drain covers coming loose, this time on the pit lane at Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Oscar Piastri, Zhou Guanyu, and Alexander Albon led the cars out when the track eventually opened for action. They were running a combination of medium and hard compound tyres. Only RB’s Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda chose to switch to a pair of soft tyres after not doing so in the opening session.

In the first two minutes, all twenty cars had left pit lane, with George Russell being the last to head out. Valtteri Bottas experienced a very early spin after losing the rear of the Sauber entering the first turn but soon rejoined the action.

Red Bull quickly took the lead in the time sheets with Sergio Perez’s first lap clocking in at 1:30.427s, which edged Max Verstappen’s by two-hundredths of a second, while Daniel Ricciardo used his softs to excellent use with a first flyer good enough for fourth.

Alonso went on to lead with a time of 1:29.846 seconds, overcoming fresh attempts from Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc with the former running on hard tyres. Perez dropped to fourth place ahead of Lance Stroll, who had recovered from his previous session’s contact with the barrier.

The Red Bulls were still half a tenth behind Alonso’s record despite the improvements from Perez and Verstappen before the Aston went on to run even faster, clocking in at 1:29.560s.

Alonso was shortly overtaken by Verstappen by 0.017s, while Carlos Sainz dropped to third place for Ferrari. Russell advanced to fifth place despite complaining that the new Mercedes felt unsteady while his teammate Lewis Hamilton infuriated Sainz and Logan Sargeant by getting in their path on his cool-down lap.

Sainz had been feeling under the weather due to a stomach ailment and wasn’t in the best of moods ahead of the weekend. The stewards noted the incident for post-session review.

After the first stint was over, the teams switched to soft tyres for the qualifying laps. Bottas was among the first to do so, and as a result, he moved up to P7. Meanwhile, Alonso was able to recover and reclaim the lead by seven-tenths thanks to the softs.

Though not quite as much, Verstappen’s improvement allowed Leclerc to move up to second, Perez to third, and Stroll to fourth. Norris was only eighth at the midway mark of the session and was grumbling about McLaren’s excessive bottoming.

Alonso stood at the top while Verstappen’s final effort saw him take the lead in the trailing group. On the other hand, Russell improved to second place despite a near miss after a slow Tsunoda forced him into the barriers. Undoubtedly, Leclerc had to take a detour to avoid colliding with Alonso amid heavy traffic.

Alonso failed to beat his previous best time of 1:28.827 seconds after Aston switched back to medium tyres for further race simulations. With an average lap time that was up to six seconds slower than on the softs, Russell, Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez, and Stroll were now locked into their respective positions for the day.

However, Verstappen continued to have a distinct and substantial advantage over his rivals in terms of long-range race pace.

The next fastest were Sainz and Hamilton in seventh and eighth. However, during the last few minutes, Hamilton took a quick detour and veered off track.

He immediately radioed the Mercedes pit wall to report that he was out of power and cautiously made his way back to the pit lane. Thankfully, he managed to exit in time to participate in practice starts after the end of the session.

Alpine will be relieved to see Pierre Gasly putting up a respectable showing of pace following the French team’s poor performance in Bahrain last week, finishing the evening in ninth place ahead of Piastri in P10.

2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix second practice result

114Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR241’28.82728
263George RussellMercedesW151’29.0570.23024
31Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB201’29.1580.33127
416Charles LeclercFerrariSF-241’29.1800.35325
511Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB201’29.3000.47327
618Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR241’29.3360.50927
755Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-241’29.4550.62826
844Lewis HamiltonMercedesW151’29.5040.67722
910Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5241’29.5280.70129
1081Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL381’29.5940.76727
1122Yuki TsunodaRB-Honda RBPT011’29.6660.83928
124Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL381’29.7580.93123
1324Zhou GuanyuSauber-FerrariC441’29.7770.95027
1423Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW461’29.7890.96228
1531Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5241’29.9011.07427
162Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW461’29.9341.10727
1720Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-241’29.9851.15824
1827Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-241’30.0771.25026
193Daniel RicciardoRB-Honda RBPT011’30.0881.26129
2077Valtteri BottasSauber-FerrariC441’30.1531.32627

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