In the second practice of the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc once again dominated the pace, but his day was cut short after brushing the barriers.
In Friday practice for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc maintained his lead over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, finishing the evening session with a 0.140s advantage.
Ferrari, on the other hand, had a difficult time, with Leclerc slamming into the wall on a following run, bending his suspension, and teammate Carlos Sainz also slamming into the barrier. As a result, neither car finished the evening without completing any long-distance simulation runs.
Kevin Magnussen took an even bigger impact. Despite the fact that Haas was able to bring the Dane out on track after his previous hydraulic failure in FP1, a new issue caused the VF-22 to stop on track halfway through the hour-long second session, triggering a Virtual Safety Car.
First practice, which took place in the late afternoon sun, was essentially irrelevant to the conditions that drivers will experience in qualifying and the race on Sunday.
This meant that the post-sunset FP2 session on Friday evening became even more important for teams looking to fine-tune their setups and assess how they stacked up against the rest of the field at Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
However, the start of the practice was delayed by 15 minutes due to a meeting with the drivers and team executives regarding a reported missile strike by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on a local oil refinery on the outskirts of the city.
Everyone had been looking for assurances regarding the event’s safety, but when the lights at the end of pit lane eventually went green, everyone was ready to get back to F1 business.
If nothing else, the delay had benefitted Haas who had now completed the radiator change in Kevin Magnussen’s car after hydraulic issues had prevented the Dane from any running in the earlier practice.
Track officials had also been happy with more time to make repairs to the circuit after a number of big crashes in the intervening support races.
Many drivers took out right away, the most on medium tyres, but a few (notably Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso) on hard tyres. It was Hulkenberg’s second race for Aston Martin after Sebastian Vettel was once again ruled out with COVID, and he was one of three drivers, along with Guanyu Zhou and Kevin Magnussen, who had no prior experience of the track and were eager to make up the deficit.
The Ferraris continued where they left off, with Charles Leclerc taking the lead with a time of 1:30.216s, three quarters of a second faster than teammate Carlos Sainz, followed by Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri, Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo, and Lando Norris of McLaren.
The two Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were then a full two seconds slower following their initial bouncing run. The two Red Bulls were the last to take the track, with Max Verstappen third fastest but a second slower than Leclerc, and Sergio Perez starting outside the top 10.
Further laps saw Sainz get to within a tenth of Leclerc, while Verstappen in third decreased the deficit, and Perez in fourth, ahead of Tsunoda, Bottas, Alonso, and Daniel Ricciardo in eighth.
Verstappen eventually overtook Leclerc and took the lead by two thousandths of a second. The cars then returned to pit lane to analyze the data and pick up new tyres in preparation for the qualifying simulation portion of the evening’s events.
Hulkenberg and Lance Stroll’s Aston Martins were the first to debut new soft compound tires, followed by Russell and Alex Albon – the replacement to his former position at Williams and then Norris. But everyone was eager to see what the leaders at the top of the timing displays could do, and both Ferraris changed compounds and started their runs shortly after.
Windy conditions and a congested track made it tough to get a clean lap in, as Albon discovered after a near-miss with a slow-moving Hamilton who was moaning about his W13’s lack of power.
With a timing of 1:30.074s, Leclerc eventually found enough room to return to the top. Hamilton and Russell improved their positions to fifth and sixth, ahead of Norris and Esteban Ocon.
However, after Magnussen broke down in sector 2 and triggered a Virtual Safety Car just moments after informing the Haas pit wall that the VF-22 was short on power after only 13 laps in the practice, further runs were briefly halted.
After the Haas was withdrawn, the cars resumed their race, with Verstappen establishing a purple middle sector but not improving his overall time.
Leclerc was also pushing hard, but he clipped the inside wall at the apex of turn 4, bending the steering on the F1-75 and finishing his session early as he limped back to pit lane. On his solo run, Sainz brushed up against the wall and was forced to park in the Ferrari garage.
The remaining racers shifted their focus to long-distance race simulations, resulting in little change on the timesheets. Verstappen, Sainz, Perez, Hamilton, Russell, Norris, Ocon, Bottas, and Tsunoda radioed “Trouble, trouble!” as the Alphatauri shuddered and came to a halt, triggering double waved yellows just as the clock hit zero.
After Magnussen’s early exit, Alonso was 11th fastest on the softs, followed by Gasly, Mick Schumacher, Lance Stroll, and Daniel Ricciardo.
Hulkenberg was 16th, tied on times with Alfa rookie Zhou, and the two Williams of Nicholas Latifi (who also tapped the wall in the final moments) and Alex Albon were the last of the 19 drivers to set a representative time.
2022 F1 SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE RESULTS (2)
|1||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1m30.074s|
|2||Max Verstappen||NED||Oracle Red Bull Racing||1m30.214s|
|3||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||1m30.320s|
|4||Sergio Perez||MEX||Oracle Bull Racing||1m30.360s|
|5||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1m30.513s|
|6||George Russell||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1m30.664s|
|7||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1m30.735s|
|8||Esteban Ocon||FRA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1m30.760s|
|9||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen||1m30.832s|
|10||Yuki Tsunoda||JPN||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1m30.886s|
|11||Fernando Alonso||ESP||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1m30.944s|
|12||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1m30.963s|
|13||Mick Schumacher||GER||Haas F1 Team||1m31.169s|
|14||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team||1m31.372s|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1m31.572s|
|16||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team||1m31.615s|
|17||Guanyu Zhou||CHN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen||1m31.615s|
|18||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1m31.814s|
|19||Alexander Albon||THA||Williams Racing||1m31.866s|
|20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1m32.344s|