Charles Leclerc Outpaces Max Verstappen In Second Practice For Australian Grand Prix


Ferrari's Charles Leclerc went fastest ahead of world champion Max Verstappen in second practice at the Australian Grand Prix on Friday, with Carlos Sainz third, barely two weeks after surgery. Leclerc completed a best lap of one minute 17.277 seconds at the Albert Park circuit, 0.381 ahead of Red Bull's Verstappen, who won from pole in Melbourne last year. Verstappen ran into a roadblock late in first practice and damaged the floor of his car, meaning the team was still working on the issue when the second session began.

The Dutchman eventually emerged as the last driver after 22 minutes of lap time and initially struggled to make inroads on the medium tires as others switched to the soft tyres.

But when he changed the tire he started flying and missed topping the timesheets.

The Red Bull star won the first two races of the season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, but was overshadowed by turmoil within the team camp.

The 26-year-old hopes to leave his off-track distractions behind by setting a record in Melbourne.

Verstappen is chasing a 10th consecutive win to equal his record set last year, while Red Bull is trying to achieve a third consecutive 1-2 finish for the first time in team history.

Third place in second practice was a remarkable achievement for Ferrari's Sainz, who had undergone appendicitis-related surgery and missed the last race in Saudi Arabia.

There were concerns about how his body would be in Australia, but he seems to have put any doubts to rest.

Lance Stroll of Aston Martins and Fernando Alonso were fourth and fifth ahead of Mercedes' George Russell.

Russell's teammate, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, could only finish 18th, nearly 1.5 seconds behind Leclerc. He was heard saying on the team radio that “something is wrong”.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri was seventh ahead of second Red Bull's Sergio Pérez and Lando Norris, who had been fastest in opening practice.

RB driver Yuki Tsunoda joined the top 10, covering less than a second.

albon smash

Under blue skies, Valtteri Bottas and Pérez led the way out of the pits as the lights turned green, with the Red Bull driver setting the pace.

But soon Alonso and many others got the better of him.

The time continued to come down with the stroke at the top at the halfway mark.

Leclerc then took control and Verstappen began to climb the leaderboard ominously as he switched to the softs, but the Dutchman was unable to get the better of his rival.

In an eventful first practice, Williams' Alex Albon crashed into the wall at Turn 8.

This caused heavy damage to the right side of his car and scattered debris on the track on the left. Albon was uninjured but did not compete in FP2 as Williams assessed the carnage.

There were also several other accidents as a reminder of the dangers of the track, where last year there were several crashes, with only 12 drivers finishing the race.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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