Saudi Arabian GP FP2: Alonso tops delayed session

Saudi Arabian GP FP2: Alonso tops delayed session

Saudi Arabian GP FP2: Alonso tops delayed session

Fernando Alonso set the fastest time in the second free practice for the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as session that was delayed by ten minutes.

The drain covers hit again, as the delay of  FP2 was due to a loose drain cover found in front of the garages which necessitated a check for all other covers on the track.

If this is going to be a pattern with the 2024 crop of Formula 1 cars, the FIA and the tracks need to find a solution as it is not acceptable to have these delays all the time. This time no car was damaged or driver affected. It will not be the same all the time.

As for the actual practice, Alonso emerged as the fastest driver, the double F1 Champion clearly enjoying his AMR24 around the track in Jeddah.

George Russell was second fastest in the Mercedes, showing the eight-time Constructors’ Champions also enjoying a turn of speed, at least with the #63 car though. Lewis Hamilton struggled for pace in the sister car.

Reigning F1 Champion Max Verstappen was third fastest in the Red Bull over three tenths off the pace of Alonso and while the latter’s lap was a cracker, his high speed in the speed trap hints that the Mercedes power unit in the back of the Aston Martin was dialed up. The same can be said about the Mercedes cars.

Furthermore, Verstappen’s best lap was compromised by traffic, so rule the Dutchman out at your own peril. And just worth noting is that when Alonso went to do a practice start at the end of the session, he lined up on the third grid position…

Buildup towards FP2

Verstappen was the fastest in the first practice session in Jeddah, but behind him the pack was close, and while the track was green and the conditions far from qualifying and the race, the teams did quite some running with all Pirelli tyre compounds making an appearance – C2 (Hard), C3 (Medium), and C4 (Soft).

But FP2 will offer a better idea of how the pecking order around the fastest F1 street circuit is, that is behind Red Bull of course, as the session will be held at night like qualifying and the grand prix.

Lance Stroll learned how tricky the Jeddah Corniche Circuit can be the hard way, hitting the walls at Turn 22 quite hard, and limping back to the pits with a broken wheel.

In case you missed it check the incident out below.

Mercedes seemed to be fast in FP1 while Alonso wasn’t far off Verstappen’s time in the Aston Martin with Ferrari there or thereabouts, but let’s not look much into that, let’s focus on FP2.

FP2 session highlights

The second practice session was delayed for ten minutes due to a loose drain cover and we can thank Haas who gave the update on their social media.

Haas said: “After a damaged cover was found in front of the garages, they all need to be checked before the session can start.”

Ten minutes after the original session start time, FP2 was a go under the floodlights of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Conditions were naturally cooler, with track temperatures registering 31 degrees centigrade while the ambient temperature  was 25 degrees.

Most of the teams opted to start the run on Medium Pirellis, while a couple of cars – the RBs – were on the Softs whole and a few other cars, a McLaren, a Haas, a Williams and a Sauber on Hards.

Valtteri Bottas soon out on track messed up Turn 1 in his Sauber and ended up in the run-off area, no major drama there. He was soon back on his way.

Ten minutes into the session, Zhou Guanyu was surprised by Carlos Sainz driving slowly, while Logan Sargeant had a scary moment with Hamilton. No contact on both cases.

Hamilton and Sargeant incident was going to be investigated after the session, the stewards announced.

Sergio Perez was over the team radio complaining about the bouncing through turns 10 and 11, while Russell was complaining his W15 was “so unstable high speed”.

After 20 minutes of running, Verstappen was leading the time charts with Alonso second and Sainz third. Perez, Russell and Charles Leclerc were third, fourth and fifth respectively.

Verstappen was pushing the limits early on it seems, check out how close he was to the wall.

With 35 minutes remaining, the drivers were back out on track after a brief visit to the pits for setup changes and the Soft tyres started making an appearance with some qualifying runs.

Lando Norris complained about the ride of his MCL38, he reported over the radio: “Too much bottoming still. It’s not good.”

Alonso also had a moment while on a fast lap with Leclerc and his own teammate, Stroll, who were driving slowly. The Spaniard said over the radio: “Mess, it’s so dangerous.”

Sainz had a moment with a McLaren, as Russell also had a close call with Yuki Tsunoda. This one was quite close and scary.

With the qualifying simulations over, the order was: Alonso – Russell- Verstappen – Leclerc- Perez – Stroll – Sainz – Hamilton – Pierre Gasly – Oscar Piastri.

Race runs with high fuel loads followed. Hamilton complained about the rear of his W15, he said over the radio: “The rear is loose. Can’t stop the rear from sliding.”

Soon after that, Hamilton slowed down on track, reporting he has no power and limped back to the pits.

Stroll was warned to keep off the painted line at the pit entry – following the race director’s directions.

In the end practice starts concluded FP2.

How they finished

Alonso posted a 1:28.827, the fastest time in FP2, over half a second slower that Perez’s 2023 pole time, and was 0.230s faster than Russell, second fastest in the Mercedes.

Verstappen was third fastest in the #1 RB20, 0.331s off the pace and 0.022s ahead of Leclerc, fourth in the standings.

Perez was fifth fastest in the other Red Bull, 0.473s off the pace and 0.036s ahead of Stroll, who was sixth in the Aston Martin.

Sainz was seventh in the Ferrari, 0.628s off Alonso’s time, with Hamilton 0.049s further behind in eighth. The Briton suffered a power issue at the end of FP2.

Gasly was ninth fastest in the Alpine, a surprise for the underpowered and overweight French cars with Piastri tenth fastest in the McLaren.

Outside the top ten notably, Norris in 12th, while Daniel Ricciardo was way down the order in 19th.

Saudi Arabian GP FP2 Classification

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