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F1 Saudi Arabian GP: Alonso leads FP2 from Russell, Verstappen

The start of the second one-hour session on Thursday in Jeddah was delayed by 10 minutes as the FIA checked drain covers in the pitlane, but it ran to time under the lights in what is the only representative practice night-time running ahead of qualifying and the race.

Oscar Piastri led the pack out of the pits in his McLaren and set the initial first-place benchmark at 1m32.956s after Valtteri Bottas had lost the rear of his Sauber and spun at Turn 1.

With most of the pack heading out on the medium or hard tyres, bar the two RB drivers on the softs from the start, Zhou Guanyu took a brief turn at the top with his first lap on the mediums before the two Red Bull drivers immediately blasted ahead.

Verstappen’s first medium flier came in at 1m30.447s before Sergio Perez nipped quicker by 0.02s, also on the mediums – the pair then shuffled back by Alonso’s first effort, a 1m29.846s, also set on the mediums.

Verstappen’s second flying lap on the mediums brought him to 0.051s behind Alonso, before the Spaniard moved the benchmark again just past the 10-minute mark, with a 1m29.560s.

But a few minutes later Verstappen finally got back to the top spot with a 1m29.543s, with a lull in action then ensuing as the drivers returned to the pits to prepare for their qualifying simulation efforts on the soft tyres.

These were kicked off by Bottas, but Alonso emerged first of the frontrunners soon afterwards and was quickly again lighting up the timing screens.

At the 25-minute mark, he registered the quickest time in sectors one and three on his way to a session-topping 1m28.827s.

Following shortly behind, Verstappen set a personal best but was a big chunk behind – a 0.550s gap into which Leclerc and Perez soon plunged to sit 0.353s and 0.473s back on Alonso.

Just past the halfway mark, as the two Mercedes cars were gearing up for their soft-tyre runs, with Lewis Hamilton at this stage sitting bottom of the times and facing a post-FP2 investigation for appearing to impede Logan Sargeant at Turn 10 in the early phase, Verstappen went again on his set of softs.

He improved to ended up 0.331s behind Alonso – Verstappen having put in a pair of slow cool-down runs before being able to use the softs again on what is a smoother surface here in Jeddah compared to the abrasive circuit used for last week’s opening round in Bahrain.

Leclerc, who made a brief trip through the pits after his softs flier, abandoned a second attempt on the same set of tyres, before the two Mercedes cars finally registered softs times.

Russell slotted into fourth at that stage, with Hamilton seventh, before the former was then able to log another softs flier that put him ahead of Verstappen and 0.23s off Alonso with just over 20 minutes remaining.

The field then switched to long-run data gathering, which cemented to the top times, just after Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz had nipped ahead of Hamilton to end up behind Lance Stroll’s sixth place in the other Aston – Sainz having been amongst many drivers to have to back out of a flying lap due to encountering traffic.

In a likely morale-boosting result for Alpine, Pierre Gasly finished ninth in FP2 ahead of Piastri, with Lando Norris only 13th in the other McLaren and complaining about his car “bottoming” significantly at its top speeds.

FP2’s concluding phase included Stroll being shown a black-and-white flag for failing to follow the race director’s instruction on not cutting the track limit when powering down the main straight past the pit entrance and Hamilton pitting with just under five minutes to go after reporting a power problem aboard his Mercedes.

Cla   Driver   Car / Engine   Time   Delay   Laps 
Fernando Alonso Aston Martin/Mercedes 1’28.827   28
George Russell Mercedes 1’29.057 0.230 24
Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda RBPT 1’29.158 0.331 27
Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’29.180 0.353 25
Sergio Perez Red Bull/Honda RBPT 1’29.300 0.473 26
Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1’29.336 0.509 27
Carlos Sainz. Ferrari 1’29.455 0.628 26
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’29.504 0.677 22
Pierre Gasly Alpine/Renault 1’29.528 0.701 28
10  Oscar Piastri McLaren/Mercedes 1’29.594 0.767 27
11  Yuki Tsunoda RB/Honda RBPT 1’29.666 0.839 28
12  Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1’29.758 0.931 23
13  Zhou Guanyu Sauber/Ferrari 1’29.777 0.950 27
14  Alexander Albon Williams/Mercedes 1’29.789 0.962 28
15  Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1’29.901 1.074 27
16  Logan Sargeant Williams/Mercedes 1’29.934 1.107 27
17  Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1’29.985 1.158 24
18  Nico Hulkenberg Haas/Ferrari 1’30.077 1.250 26
19  Daniel Ricciardo RB/Honda RBPT 1’30.088 1.261 29
20  Valtteri Bottas Sauber/Ferrari 1’30.153 1.326 26

This article was originally published by a www.motorsport.com . Read the Original article here. .

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