Alonso tops delayed FP2 amid near-misses

Fernando Alonso set the pace in the second practice session at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as a number of drivers experienced near-misses in traffic.

The start of the session was delayed by 10 minutes while pit lane checks were carried out, with concerns over loose drain covers. One that was resolved, the FIA simply pushed the session back and still allowed the full hour to take place given the relevancy of the conditions under the lights at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

There was a close call between Logan Sargeant and Lewis Hamilton early in the session, with the Williams driver coming across the Mercedes and Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari at the high-speed Turn 10. Hamilton was in the middle of the road, and Sargeant had to take evasive action, going over the exit curb and off track. The stewards opted to investigate the incident after the session, but it was far from the only such moment.


With multiple drivers encountering traffic in the first sector — where sight lines mean visibility is restricted but many of the corners are high speed — Alonso stated the situation was “a mess” and it’s likely to be discussed during the driver briefing. At present there is no maximum sector time in place in the first sector, that would mandate a minimum speed.

Alonso still topped the session with a 1m28.827s, leading George Russell by nearly a quarter of a second in the only representative session ahead of qualifying and the race. Much like Bahrain, FP1 and FP3 take place in the heat of the day, before the night sessions.

Max Verstappen was third fastest after setting the pace from Alonso in FP1, this time over 0.3s adrift of the Aston Martin. Fourth was Charles Leclerc, who was just 0.022s slower than Verstappen, with Sergio Perez in fifth.

Lance Stroll ensured both Aston Martin cars were in the top six, with Carlos Sainz managing to compete in both practice sessions despite an illness that led to him leaving the track early on Wednesday and had put his ability to drive in Thursday practice in question.

It was a tough session for Hamilton, who not only faces the investigation into the incident with Sargeant but ended up nearly 0.7s adrift of Alonso and over 0.4s slower than teammate Russell. Hamilton complained of a lack of rear end stability, and then had to end his running early when he reported a loss of power after a big slide to run off-track at Turn 22.

Pierre Gasly and Oscar Piastri rounded out the top 10, with McLaren searching for answers to setup issues as Lando Norris — 12th fastest behind Yuki Tsunoda — complaining that the car was bottoming out badly during his running.

1.3 seconds covered the entire field during the second session, with Valtteri Bottas slowest for Stake Sauber and suffering a spin at Turn 1 early on once running had belatedly begun.

Story originally appeared on Racer