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Leclerc leads the way in Practice 2

Phil Branagan
Friday, 22 March 2024

Ferrari’s fan favourite Charles Leclerc has emerged as the fastest man on the Albert Park track in the second Practice session of the FORMULA 1 ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX 2024.

The Monegasque driver made the most of a mid-session run on the Soft, red-walled Pirelli tyres to set a time of 1:17.277sec, to take the top spot heading into the all-important weekend.

Ferrari looked like the team that would set the pace, with teammate Carlos Sainz backing up Leclerc in third place.


Early on, the session was dominated by the Aston Martins, with Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso leading the way. Then along came the Ferrari pairing of Leclerc, who made the main grandstand erupt with cheering as he took over on top – followed quickly by Sainz.

But once the Red Bull team had repaired the floor that Verstappen dislodged when he ran over a kerb in the opening Practice session, the World Champion made his presence felt, first tying Sainz's time to the thousandth of a second and then taking second place—even if he was 0.38 seconds behind Leclerc.

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Stroll remained in fourth place, followed by Alonso. George Russell led the Mercedes-AMG, followed by the best of the McLarens, Melbourne’s Oscar Piastri in seventh. The local lad spent much of the session on a long run to check out the race pace of the McLaren-Mercedes, while Daniel Ricciardo again completed many laps in the RB-Honda. The West Australian finished up in 12th place.

It was a very close session, with the top 10 drivers separated by just one second.

It was not a great session for British fans. Lando Norris was in ninth place while Lewis Hamilton was back in 18th place, and he reported that he felt “something was wrong” with his car. Even if he was doing a long run on Medium tyres in preparation for the race, it was not a great Friday for the multiple Australian Grand Prix winner.

One driver who did not get to make any impression was Alex Albon. The Williams team were still assessing the damage to the car after his FP1 crash, and it is possible that he may face being the only Williams to make it into Qualifying on Saturday; the team is likely to stand down teammate Logan Sargeant should Albon’s car not be repairable.

The Formula 1 stars will be back in action on Saturday. The third Practice session is set for 12:30 pm, and Qualifying for the race is scheduled for 4:00 pm.