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Practice report
Formula 1 Bahrain GP

F1 Bahrain GP: Alonso tops FP2 from Red Bull pair

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso beat Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez to the top spot in second practice for Formula 1’s 2023 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished fourth in a session where the top 13 drivers finished within one-second of each other, the Mercedes drivers were locked in the pack and Nico Hulkenberg produced a starring effort for Haas.

With the temperatures down 5C to 22C in the evening running under lights, several teams immediately headed out on the soft tyres they had eschewed in the hot FP1 running earlier on Friday afternoon.

This included Alpine, with Esteban Ocon using the softs to pop in a 1m32.415s that demoted Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, who had set the first-place benchmark at 1m33.624s on the mediums a few moments earlier.

The Ferrari drivers then flashed through to close out the one-hour session’s first five minutes with their first runs on the softs – Sainz shooting into first place with a 1m31.956s before Leclerc surged ahead on a 1m31.843s, gaining time on his team-mate during the second half of the lap.

Leclerc’s time stood as the quickest for 20 minutes – the subsequent featuring several close calls between drivers as Perez had to jink left and avoid Leclerc’s rear when coming across the Ferrari at the Turn 8, downhill hairpin, while McLaren’s Oscar Piastri had a pair of the lock ups at Turn 1.

The first came after Piastri had tried to outdrag Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri down the main straight before they came upon Stroll going slowly ahead of the right-hand hairpin in the middle of the track, with the McLaren diving right but snatching his right front brake as he did so.

A few moments later, Piastri went off at the same spot having caught the flatspot on this right front tyre sustained in the first incident, which resulted in McLaren bringing him in for fresh rubber.

The second round of performance runs kicked off approaching the 25-minute mark, with Sainz getting closer to Leclerc’s leading time but failing to better it before Stroll appeared for the first time on the softs.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

He nipped ahead of the Ferraris with a 1m31.450s before being shuffled down a few moments later by Haas’s Hulkenberg, who produced a 1m31.376s.

But that only lasted as the benchmark for a few moments as Perez shot into first place with Red Bull’s first run on the softs – the Mexican driver setting a 1m31.078s that Leclerc could not match, his second softs flier coming in 0.289s slower than Perez.

But both with shuffled back – first by Alonso, who popped in a 1m30.907s that stood as the leading time to the end of the session.

Then came Verstappen, who was of the leaders to fit the softs having been complaining his RB19 was “jumping around a lot more than in testing” also in Bahrain a week ago.

He beat Perez and Leclerc but could not head Alonso – Verstappen only setting a purple sector in the middle third and ending up 0.169s behind the Spaniard’s effort.

The pack then headed back to the pits before completing the final third of the session completing the typical late-FP2 long-run data-gathering exercises.

These featured Alonso locking up heavily and going off at the Turns 9/10 double left complex at the start of his race simulation, while his team-mate revealed he could not follow Aston’s advice to “compromise” Turn 1’s exit to have a wider, better line through Turn 2 due to his injured left hand.

Stroll was spotted taking his left hand off his steering wheel as he braked for the first corner, and turning in with that hand’s palm pushing the wheel instead of simply turning in the typical fashion.

Hulkenberg’s softs flier ended up being good enough for fifth ahead of Stroll, Pierre Gasly and Lewis Hamilton, who was 0.636s behind the top spot held by his former McLaren team-mate.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Lando Norris and Zhou Guanyu rounded out the top 10 ahead of Ocon, Valtteri Bottas and George Russell in the second Mercedes – the Briton during the mid-session qualifying simulations needing his team to check his floor after running wide over the kerbs exiting the fast, downhill right-left of Turns 6-7 and approaching the Turn 8 hairpin.

Sainz’s second flier on the softs was pushed all the way down to 14th, with the Spaniard the first driver to finish beyond the one-second gap to Alonso.

Now FP2 has concluded, the stewards will investigate a pitlane incident from the half-way stage where Norris had to stamp on his brakes in response to Nyck de Vries’s AlphaTauri being released into his path.

De Vries finished 19th in his first FP2 appearance for Red Bull’s sister squad.

F1 Bahrain GP - FP2 results

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Laps Time Gap
1 Spain Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes 25 1'30.907  
2 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull Red Bull 24 1'31.076 0.169
3 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull Red Bull 26 1'31.078 0.171
4 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 26 1'31.367 0.460
5 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 25 1'31.376 0.469
6 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 28 1'31.450 0.543
7 France Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 24 1'31.475 0.568
8 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 27 1'31.543 0.636
9 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 27 1'31.570 0.663
10 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 27 1'31.586 0.679
11 France Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 25 1'31.608 0.701
12 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 28 1'31.793 0.886
13 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes Mercedes 25 1'31.882 0.975
14 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari Ferrari 28 1'31.956 1.049
15 Australia Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 27 1'32.024 1.117
16 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 18 1'32.110 1.203
17 Thailand Alex Albon Williams Mercedes 28 1'32.440 1.533
18 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull 27 1'32.525 1.618
19 Netherlands Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Red Bull 28 1'32.605 1.698
20 United States Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 29 1'32.749 1.842

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