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FP2: Leclerc sets the pace during second practice in Australia from Verstappen and Sainz

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: Sparks fly behind Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16)

Charles Leclerc ended the opening day of running at the Australian Grand Prix on top after setting the pace in Free Practice 2, leading from Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz.

It was a busy start when the session got underway in sunny conditions at 1600 local time, though two drivers remained in the garage. Verstappen faced a delay to his running as the Red Bull team worked on the floor of his RB20, with the Dutchman having picked up some damage in FP1.

READ MORE: FP1: Norris fastest during first practice in Australia after Albon causes red flag

Alex Albon, meanwhile, was forced to sit out FP2 altogether following his heavy crash in first practice. The Thai driver was uninjured but the Williams squad required further time to assess the damage to his car.

After several drivers suffered off-track moments in FP1, Logan Sargeant had an early spin in second practice as the wind continued to pick up. The American visited the gravel and narrowly avoided contact with the barriers, while others including the Mercedes duo also ran off track as the session progressed.

Australia 2024

Practice 2 results

PositionTeam NameTime
1LEC1:17.277
2VER+0.381s
3SAI+0.43s
4STR+0.545s
5ALO+0.635s
View Full Results

As the flying laps on the soft tyres came in, it was Leclerc who went fastest with a time of 1m 17.277s. This put him 0.381s clear of Verstappen, who – after eventually joining the session around 25 minutes in – found himself slightly out of sync with the rest of the field in terms of his run plan.

Sainz slotted into third as the Spaniard continued his return to action after undergoing surgery following appendicitis two weeks ago, while the Aston Martin pair of Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso put in a good showing in P4 and P5 respectively.

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George Russell set the sixth fastest time in what looked to be a slightly challenging session for Mercedes, ahead of Oscar Piastri in seventh and Sergio Perez in eighth. Lando Norris – who had earlier set the pace in FP1 – claimed P9, with RB’s Yuki Tsunoda rounding out the top 10.

Zhou Guanyu was 11th for Kick Sauber as the team look to address the pit stop issues that have blighted them in recent races, while Daniel Ricciardo went 12th in front of his home crowd.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull

Verstappen faced a late start to his running in FP2

The sole Williams of Sargeant ended the day in P13 after going wide more than once in the hour, with Valtteri Bottas behind in P14 and Pierre Gasly the lead Alpine in P15.

Nico Hulkenberg claimed P16 off the back of scoring a point for Haas in Saudi Arabia, while Esteban Ocon took P17.

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It looked to be a difficult day for Lewis Hamilton, with the Briton finishing down in 18th after earlier abandoning his first two flying laps. Kevin Magnussen, meanwhile, completed the session in 19th.

With Friday’s track action in Melbourne now complete, the teams will assess their data before Free Practice 3 begins on Saturday at 1230 local time prior to qualifying later in the day.

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