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F1 Las Vegas GP: Leclerc leads Ferrari 1-2 in delayed and extended FP2 session

Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari 1-2 in the delayed and extended FP2 session at Formula 1’s 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix, following the water valve cover issues that blighted FP1.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso finished third, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen down in sixth.

The session got underway 2.5 hours later than planned, at 2.30am local time following repairs to the track surface along the city’s famous Strip, after Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon suffered damage in FP1 that lasted just eight minutes when a water valve cover was forced up from its concrete join by the force of the ground-effect cars.

FP2 also took place in front of no fans after the police, on behalf of the race organiser, F1 itself, had to clear all fan areas including grandstands due to security staff shift patterns changing.

In the opening phase of what was an extended 90-minute session to make up for the earlier lost running, the pack was split across using the soft and medium tyres – with most on the red-walled rubber, but the Red Bull pair notably running the mediums – as they examined how many laps were needed to prepare the tyres for a flying lap while completing lengthy opening stints.

Several drivers had stints at the head of the times as the track evolution factor kicked in with more rubber being laid down and the tyres finally heating up on the smooth new surface.

That meant the times tumbled from Oscar Piastri’s first timed lap of 1m43.832s to Verstappen’s 1m38.209s by the end of the opening 15 minutes, with Leclerc sitting 0.116s adrift of the world champion at this stage, but having run the softs.

After a lull in action up to the 25-minute mark, Leclerc headed back out on the softs, with Verstappen soon joining him on the same compound.

Neither driver improved on their first attempts on new softs – the pair having a bizarre incident heading down the Strip at the end of preparation tours when Verstappen was “racing already”, per Leclerc, as he moved past the Ferrari into Turn 14.

This left Sergio Perez and then Sainz to nip ahead on the timing boards, with Perez posting a 1m37.807s before Sainz beat him with a 1m36.984s – after the Spaniard had shot to the top, briefly, during the initially running with his first lap in his repaired SF-23.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Verstappen’s second attempt at a softs flier went wrong when he locked up into Turn 12 and had to bail into the escape road, while Leclerc demoted Perez of second.

As the drivers continued to circulate for lengthy stints, Verstappen eventually beat his medium-shod initial personal best to run adrift of the Ferrari drivers, which by the 35-minute mark was Leclerc ahead with a 1m36.660s at the top of the times.

Five minutes later, Hamilton moved into second place – just 0.003s down on Leclerc’s top time – with Sainz and the two Red Bull cars back in the pits again.

Before he also came in ahead of the halfway point, Leclerc posted a purple first sector before losing time through the lap’s other two segments and wound up 0.8s down on his leading personal best.

While the initial frontrunners made adjustments to their cars, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso shuffled Leclerc back to second by 0.003s himself thanks to his 1m36.657s post as the clock hit the 50-minute point.

He then pitted while the other frontrunners returned to the track, Sainz and then Verstappen taking over at the top spot before Leclerc blasted to a 1m35.696s with 55 minutes completed.

Verstappen cut the gap to Leclerc, but he was then shuffled back by Sainz, Perez and Valtteri Bottas, before Alonso shot back to second and Leclerc improved the benchmark to a 1m35.265s as 65 minutes ticked by.

By this stage the Mercedes drivers had switched to the typical long runs that end FP2 using the medium tyres, with Verstappen soon doing likewise on the softs.

Sparks under George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

Sparks under George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Soon enough, the pack were on high fuel runs, which cemented the top 10 as Leclerc, Sainz, Alonso, Perez, Bottas, Verstappen, Nico Hulkenberg, Lance Stroll, Lewis Hamilton and Alex Albon.

Lando Norris finished 11th having jumped up from last ahead of the closing stages – a gain that followed him having to pit for repairs during the early stages to address a cooling sensor problem.

Many drivers had lock ups and offs into the massive run-off areas at Turns 5, 12 and 14, but it appeared the track surface repairs held up as the session ran to its elongated duration without interruption.

F1 Las Vegas GP - FP2 results

 
 
       
Driver Info
 
 
 
   
Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Laps Time Interval km/h
1 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 Ferrari Ferrari 39

1'35.265

  234.331
2 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari 39

+0.517

1'35.782

0.517 233.066
3 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 Aston Martin Mercedes 38

+0.528

1'35.793

0.011 233.039
4 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull 36

+0.820

1'36.085

0.292 232.331
5 Finland V. Bottas Alfa Romeo 77 Alfa Romeo Ferrari 36

+0.864

1'36.129

0.044 232.225
6 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull 37

+0.918

1'36.183

0.054 232.095
7 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 Haas Ferrari 33

+1.224

1'36.489

0.306 231.359
8 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 Aston Martin Mercedes 41

+1.231

1'36.496

0.007 231.342
9 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes 42

+1.398

1'36.663

0.167 230.942
10 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 Williams Mercedes 42

+1.423

1'36.688

0.025 230.882
11 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 McLaren Mercedes 33

+1.599

1'36.864

0.176 230.463
12 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 Mercedes Mercedes 37

+1.625

1'36.890

0.026 230.401
13 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 Haas Ferrari 37

+1.652

1'36.917

0.027 230.337
14 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes 35

+1.722

1'36.987

0.070 230.171
15 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 Alpine Renault 33

+1.869

1'37.134

0.147 229.822
16 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 Alpine Renault 37

+1.976

1'37.241

0.107 229.569
17 Japan Y. Tsunoda AlphaTauri 22 AlphaTauri Red Bull 41

+2.147

1'37.412

0.171 229.166
18 China Z. Guanyu Alfa Romeo 24 Alfa Romeo Ferrari 36

+2.391

1'37.656

0.244 228.594
19 Australia D. Ricciardo AlphaTauri 3 AlphaTauri Red Bull 40

+2.415

1'37.680

0.024 228.538
20 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 Williams Mercedes 42

+2.875

1'38.140

0.460 227.466

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