Formula 1

Costly Sainz crash dampens pacesetter Ferrari's Abu Dhabi FP2

by Jack Cozens
3 min read

Ferrari suffered a big setback in second practice for Formula 1's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Carlos Sainz crashed heavily in the early stages of a session that was twice red-flagged.

The team is involved in the most significant battle still to be decided in this year's constructors' championship, as it sits just four points behind second-placed Mercedes.

But Sainz, the best-placed Ferrari in the drivers' championship in fourth, completed just three laps in FP2 before bringing out the red flag eight minutes into the session with a big shunt when his SF-23 snapped to the left through the fast Turn 3 right-hander.

The Ferrari had been one of the cars bottoming out through that corner in FP1 but Sainz reported that the dirty air from one of the AlphaTauris exiting the pits had given him a "big snap" over the bumps as he was sent spinning.

His side-on impact was forceful enough to split up some of the Techpro on the outside of the corner and Sainz's car sustained significant damage on the left-hand side - including to the front wing, floor, and rear suspension, with a visible chunk missing from the sidepod cover as well.

Sainz - whose car needed a complete rebuild one week ago at the Las Vegas GP too - reported he was OK over the Ferrari team radio and climbed out unassisted, returning to the garage soon after.

That wiped nearly 27 minutes more from FP2, which resumed with 25 minutes remaining only to be stopped once more soon after when Nico Hulkenberg lost his Haas on the exit kerb at Turn 1.

The rear of the Haas stepped out as Hulkenberg got back on the power and the car rotated, with the right-rear corner and the rear wing damaged in the resulting impact with the barrier.

This resulting stoppage was shorter - FP2 resumed with 16 minutes remaining and was not interrupted thereafter - but the loss of track time nevertheless proved a significant impediment not just to the 10 teams but also the nine drivers who sat out FP1 as teams fulfilled their rookie driver obligations for the season.

Ferrari was at least able to take some solace from FP2 as Charles Leclerc ended the session fastest.

Teams seemed split on how to approach the final part of the session but Leclerc was among the first to attempt a qualifying simulation on softs - a move eventually copied by most - and set a best time of 1m24.809s.

McLaren's Lando Norris got closest to him and was 0.043s off, with world champion Max Verstappen third.

Verstappen's end to the session was not the smoothest. He displayed frustration both times the session restarted at the speed with which others exited the pitlane - on the second occasion reporting he was getting blocked by the Mercedes in the pit exit tunnel, with Russell responding by telling Mercedes "Verstappen's just crossed one of the lines to pass" - and Verstappen also complained his Red Bull was "jumping like a kangaroo" in the final sector.

Valtteri Bottas was fourth ahead of the second RB19 of Sergio Perez. That improvement came on Perez's second push lap on softs, his first having included the fastest middle sector of all before he backed out.

Russell and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton were sixth and eighth, sandwiching the second Alfa Romeo of Zhou Guanyu, with Pierre Gasly (Alpine) and Oscar Piastri completing the top 10.

Practice 2 Results

PosNameCarBest TimeGap Leader
1Charles LeclercFerrari1m24.809s
2Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1m24.852s+0.043s
3Max VerstappenRed Bull1m24.982s+0.173s
4Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1m25.024s+0.215s
5Sergio PérezRed Bull1m25.112s+0.303s
6George RussellMercedes1m25.122s+0.313s
7Guanyu ZhouAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1m25.223s+0.414s
8Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m25.315s+0.506s
9Pierre GaslyAlpine-Renault1m25.321s+0.512s
10Oscar PiastriMcLaren-Mercedes1m25.361s+0.552s
11Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-Mercedes1m25.397s+0.588s
12Daniel RicciardoAlphaTauri-Honda RBPT1m25.467s+0.658s
13Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1m25.492s+0.683s
14Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1m25.566s+0.757s
15Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPT1m25.669s+0.860s
16Alex AlbonWilliams-Mercedes1m26.081s+1.272s
17Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1m26.413s+1.604s
18Logan SargeantWilliams-Mercedes1m26.659s+1.850s
19Carlos SainzFerrari1m26.707s+1.898s
20Nico HülkenbergHaas-Ferrari1m27.147s+2.338s
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