Australian GP: Charles Leclerc edges out Max Verstappen in practice 2 as Mercedes woes persist


Ferrari the team to beat at the Australian GP as Charles Leclerc completes a Friday practice double in red as he edges out Max Verstappen in P2; Alpine impresses, the two Mercedes cars out of the top 10 at the start of the painful weekend; Watch Saturday qualifying live on Sky Sports F1 at 7am

Last update: 08/04/22 08:26

Charles Leclerc capped another encouraging day for Ferrari by setting the pace ahead of Max Verstappen in second practice at the Australian GP, ​​with Mercedes further down the field in a miserable start to the weekend.

Championship leader Leclerc and world champion Verstappen went head-to-head in two gripping races to start the season and they continued their battle on the opening day of testing in Melbourne – although Ferrari seem a step further faster than closest rivals Red Bull.

After Carlos Sainz dominated the first session, Leclerc doubled in acceleration in the second practice session with a 1:18.978, two tenths faster than Verstappen, who put in a frustrated figure and could not complete a full turn.

“Ferrari looks a bit untouchable,” said Sky Sports F1’s Paul Di Resta.

Sainz finished third for the early 2022 leaders, ahead of surprise package Fernando Alonso in the Alpine and Sergio Perez’s other Red Bull.

Lance Stroll causes a red flag as he drives up the curb and loses part of his car.

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Lance Stroll causes a red flag as he drives up the curb and loses part of his car.

Lance Stroll causes a red flag as he drives up the curb and loses part of his car.

Alpine, mixing it up front, also had Esteban Ocon in sixth.

These are the positions you would normally expect from Mercedes, but the world champions are still floundering and well behind.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished 11th and 13th respectively in P2, well over a second behind Leclerc’s benchmark.

Sebastian Vettel also endured a frustrating day on his return to F1 after an enforced Covid absence. After coming to a standstill during the first practice sessions, the quadruple world champion did not take to the track at all with his Aston Martin during the second session.

Sebastian Vettel runs for a fire extinguisher as his car's engine begins to smoke.

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Sebastian Vettel runs for a fire extinguisher as his car’s engine begins to smoke.

Sebastian Vettel runs for a fire extinguisher as his car’s engine begins to smoke.

There was, however, a more encouraging day for the Mercedes-powered McLaren.

The Woking side showed flashes of pace throughout both Friday practices, and they finished the day eighth and 10th thanks to Lando Norris and local hero Daniel Ricciardo.

More soon.




Sky Sports

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