until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Alonso splits Red Bulls in second Saudi Arabian GP practice

by Jack Cozens
3 min read

Max Verstappen remained at the head of the order in second practice for the 2023 Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin splitting the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Perez as the Ferraris again made little impression.

Key moments:

> Verstappen sets best time on fourth lap on softs

> Alonso gets between Red Bulls on second run

> Alpines fourth and sixth; Russell between

> Ferraris only round out top 10

FP1 pacesetter Verstappen picked up where he left off by setting the fastest time when teams opted to run medium tyres at the start of the 60-minute session, though his 1m30.058s benchmark was four tenths of a second shy of his effort earlier in the day.

He was leapfrogged by team-mate Sergio Perez as the field switched to softs for qualifying simulation runs, though Perez’s lap – which included the fastest final sector of all – only put him half a tenth clear of Verstappen.

The world champion and Bahrain GP winner duly returned to the top of the times when he eventually attempted a qualifying run on softs, on his fourth lap on the tyre, setting a 1m29.603s that stood as the session’s best time.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Verstappen, who complained of “really bad” downshifts on his long run at the end of the session – noting they were particularly troublesome through the final corner.

Perez’s fastest final sector kept him just within three tenths of his team-mate, but he was shuffled back to third by Alonso – who was sent out for a second simulation on softs.

The Aston Martin driver was set to go fastest on his first run before either of Perez’s or Verstappen’s attempts but he had to keep to the right at the Jeddah circuit’s tricky, modified Turn 22 chicane.

That still offered an improvement but he went faster still on his second run, ending the session 0.208s down on Verstappen.

Alpine pair Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly spoke bullishly pre-weekend about the possibility of troubling the Mercedes drivers in Jeddah but their performances in FP2 suggested they could be on for an even better result than that – Ocon setting the fourth-fastest time of the session, 0.061s up on team-mate Gasly who was sixth.

F1 2023 R02 Fp2

They sandwiched the lead Mercedes of George Russell, who got within half a second of Verstappen’s benchmark but reported at the end of the qualifying simulations to his team that “we need to make some big changes”.

The second Aston Martin of Lance Stroll was eighth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, who dragged another impressive laptime out of the Haas VF23 having shone in qualifying in Bahrain a fortnight earlier.

They were both more than a tenth and a half clear of the fastest Ferrari in FP2, with Charles Leclerc a low-key ninth and Carlos Sainz 10th.

Sainz improved on his second push lap on the softs, that effort putting him 0.007s ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes W14.

But as it was in Bahrain, the field was incredibly close; Sainz in 10th was less than four tenths ahead of the McLaren of Oscar Piastri, who was second slowest in the times.

Valtteri Bottas propped up the order for Alfa Romeo, but was within 1.5s of the best time.

Practice 2 Results

Pos Name Car Best Time Gap Leader
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m29.603s
2 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m29.811s +0.208s
3 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1m29.902s +0.299s
4 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m30.039s +0.436s
5 George Russell Mercedes 1m30.07s +0.467s
6 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault 1m30.1s +0.497s
7 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m30.11s +0.507s
8 Nico Hülkenberg Haas-Ferrari 1m30.181s +0.578s
9 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m30.341s +0.738s
10 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1m30.592s +0.989s
11 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m30.599s +0.996s
12 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m30.721s +1.118s
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m30.776s +1.173s
14 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 1m30.81s +1.207s
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m30.82s +1.217s
16 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m30.837s +1.234s
17 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m30.921s +1.318s
18 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 1m30.959s +1.356s
19 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 1m30.964s +1.361s
20 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m31.052s +1.449s
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