Melbourne FP2: Alonso tops rain-marred session

Melbourne FP2: Alonso tops rain-marred session

Melbourne FP2: Alonso tops rain-marred session
Fernando Alonso set the fastest at the end of rain-hit FP2 for the 2023 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, making for an unrepresentative session on Friday in Melbourne.

The Spaniard set his fastest time early in the session, on Medium tyres, when conditions were still dry and naturally could not improve later on.

Charles Leclerc was second fastest in the Ferrari, while Max Verstappen, who ran wide at Turn 1 at the start of the session could only manage third.

This should set the stage for an interesting grand prix on Sunday, as with the lack of running in the wet FP2, the teams could not collect sufficient data about the tyres and their degradation, which means it will be more challenging to identify the race strategies.

Buildup towards FP2

Max Verstappen picked up from where he left, fastest in FP1, despite that late spin in the session, but Lewis Hamilton is the one who should have some reason to rejoice, second fastest, albeit over four tenths slower than the Dutchman.

It remains to be seen whether Mercedes and Hamilton can maintain their promising opening form.

FP1 was eventful with multiple off-track excursions, Red Flags, GPS problems, you name it, but FP2 would always be the session that better represents that race and qualifying conditions so focus would be on that session.

Aston Martin and Alonso are still up there while Ferrari seem to be in a tough position, the victory of Charles Leclerc around Albert Park in 2022, no seemingly an old memory.

Melbourne FP2 session highlights

The second free practice session down under kicked off with rain expected to hit the track 20 minutes into FP2, as teams and drivers set out to do some useful running on slick tyres.

Fernando Alonso topped the timing screens early on, as Max Verstappen had a moment at Turn 1, running wide into the grass.

Traffic seemed to be an issue early on, as various drivers had some close moments on track but thankfully no contact made.

The rain decides to make an early appearance, as the skies opened up, 15 minutes into the session, not intensely though.

The teams, who starting the session on a mix of Medium and Hard tyres, quickly switched to Soft tyres to put in some qualifying runs. However no one could improve his times.

Esteban Ocon is soon informed by his team that there would be no more rain expected, with conditions expected to be better, only for the Frenchman’s race engineer to make a U-Turn, declaring that more rain will soon hit the track.

“I think we should come in, we’ve got heavier rain 10 minutes away,” the Alpine engineer said.

Indeed, the wet conditions starting to catch out some drivers, Alonso and Lando Norris both having moments at Turn 1.

About halfway into the session, and with further rain expected, all the cars returned back to the pits, but Logan Sargeant, he never even exited the pits as Williams’ mechanics worked on his FW45 trying to sort out the “suspected electrical” problem that left the American stranded out on track at the end of the first practice session.

Soon Carlos Sainz ventured out on track with a new set of Soft tyres bolted to his SF-23, as Charles Leclerc, George Russell soon followed.

Russell radioed in claiming the track conditions are not suitable for slicks, with Intermediates being the tyre of choice within ten minutes if the conditions continue.

And surely Sainz and Leclerc returned back to the pits, the latter declaring: “There is no point driving like this.”

Ocon, on the other hand, head out on track with a set of Intermediate tyres bolted to his Alpine, as Lewis Hamilton also did an out lap on the same tyre compound before heading pack to the pits.

Verstappen also fancied a run on the Intermediate tyres, performing a practice start at the pitlane exit, and soon reported heavy rain on the track.

Several drivers followed, but none of the drivers was able to improve his times with track conditions worsening, something Lance Stroll experiences first hand, having several hairy moments while running the green-sidewall tyres.

Hamilton also had a moment, his W14 oversteering at Turn 3 once he put the power down, but was able to catch it.

Worth noting, the home hero and McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri seemed to be relishing the wet conditions lapping impressively in the 1m30s around a wet Albert Park.

Towards the end, drivers lined up on the starting grid for some practice starts on the Intermediate tyres.

How they finished

Fernando Alonso’s best pre-rain effort in FP2 was a 1:18.887, which was 0.445s fastest than Charles Leclerc who was second fastest.

Max Verstappen posted a 1:19.502 to go third fastest, 0.615s slower than Alonso as George Russell was fourth fastest in the Mercedes 0.170s further down the road.

Carlos Sainz was fifth fastest for Ferrari with a 1:19.695, almost two tenths slower than his teammate, while Esteban Ocon was 0.030s behind the Spaniard in sixth.

Sergio Perez was seventh fastest in the #11 Red Bull, 1.196s off the pace, while Lando Norris, who almost spun exiting the McLaren garage at the start of the session, was eighth with a 1:20.176.

Nico Hulkenberg was ninth fastest for Haas, with a 1:20.194. while Pierre Gasly rounded off the top ten 0.012s behind the German.

FP2 Official Results