Leclerc leads second Australian GP practice

Charles Leclerc topped second practice at the Australian Grand Prix in front of a sold-out crowd in Melbourne.

More than 124,000 people — an Australian Friday record — streamed through the Albert Park gates to see the Ferrari driver best Max Verstappen for the fastest time of the day.

Leclerc was one of several drivers to struggle keeping their cars on the road through the hour of late-afternoon track action, firing his Ferrari off the circuit and over the grass at Turn 1 late in the session during his race simulation.

He had no such trouble on his fastest lap on fresh softs, however, setting a best time of 1m17.277s to pip reigning Melbourne winner Verstappen by 0.381s.


Carlos Sainz completed a Ferrari one-three, the Spaniard 0.43s slower than his leading teammate as he continues his recovery from an appendectomy performed two weeks ago.

The session was free of any major disruptive incident, but slow traffic on the super-fast back half of the circuit was a perpetual bugbear for drivers on fast laps and race runs, while lock-ups aplenty were recorded on the smooth and dusty street surface.

Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso both experienced snaps and wobbles on their way to fourth and fifth. Alonso in particular flirted with disaster at Turn 6-7, suffering a major snap in the same place Alex Albon wrote off his car earlier in the day. The Spaniard had already had one floor change made to his car after skipping over the stones in FP1, but he avoided further damage in this instance to complete the day.

George Russell cut the grass at Turn 1 on his way to sixth place and 0.674s off the pace in a Mercedes that continued to look uneasy in the circuit’s biggest braking zones. His teammate, Lewis Hamilton, finished down in 18th.

Oscar Piastri led the way for McLaren at home in seventh at 0.8s adrift. Teammate Lando Norris — who’d paced the opening session — was ninth, the pair sandwiching Sergio Perez in eighth.

Yuki Tsunoda completed the top 10 for RB, the Japanese driver 0.911s off the pace and ahead of Zhou Guanyu and Daniel Ricciardo.

Logan Sargeant was the only Williams driver in action, with teammate Albon’s car confined to pit lane for damage assessment following his major FP1 crash. Williams confirmed it has no spare chassis available this weekend but said it wasn’t yet sure whether Albon’s crash would require a tub change.

Sargeant threatened to wipe the team out of the weekend entirely when he tapped the barriers at Turn 11, forcing him to crawl slowly back to pit lane. He was given the all-clear and completed the hour with only one further off-track excursion.

Valtteri Bottas finished 14th ahead of Pierre Gasly, Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Ocon, Hamilton and Kevin Magnussen.

Story originally appeared on Racer