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F1 Saudi Arabian GP: Verstappen completes Friday practice clean sweep

Max Verstappen grabbed the fastest time in Formula 1's second practice session ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, beating Fernando Alonso by two tenths of a second.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Glenn Dunbar

Following FP1 before sundown, FP2 was run at nightfall in more representative conditions for qualifying and the race, the temperature floating around 26 degrees C for the start of the session.

Lance Stroll kicked off proceedings on the medium tyre with a 1m32.293s, but this was quickly felled by Carlos Sainz's 1m31.080s as the cars flooded the circuit at the top of the session.

The Spaniard held the top of the timing boards for the opening five minutes, fending off Fernando Alonso's 1m31.392s, but Sainz was soon overturned by Verstappen.

Once the Dutchman had logged a 1m30.801s, Stroll looked to be in with a chance of eclipsing his lap time after a sterling opening sector, but his Aston Martin team-mate Alonso prevailed with a 1m30.612s.

Sergio Perez then intervened and posted a 1m30.428s to bring the pace down, but Verstappen's riposte was nearly 0.4s clear of his Red Bull team-mate. This put the reigning champion back in control for the end of the session's first quarter, with Verstappen raising the bar with a 1m29.952s.

Once the early choices of medium and hard tyres were shed following the opening 20 minutes of laps, soft tyre running subsequently began in earnest as Alonso sought to topple Verstappen's current headliner.

But his 1m29.985s on the first soft-tyre run in anger was just a smidgen shy, and Perez's 1m29.902s on the same soft compound was enough to place the Mexican on top of the order.

Verstappen waited until later to do his own lap on softs, crossing the line at the half-hour mark with a 1m29.603s to put nearly 0.3s over Perez, but still had to withstand a late challenge from Alonso, who logged a 1m29.811s in another soft-shod effort.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

With the times set, the teams focused on their longer run plans for the final part of the session, effectively cementing another practice-headlining session for Verstappen, with Alonso and Perez figuring behind him.

Despite his ominous pace, Verstappen had grievances and complained that his "downshifts were really bad", particularly at the final corner, finding latency in the switch between gears during his longer runs towards the end of the session.

Esteban Ocon was fourth fastest, quickest of those unable to transcend the 90-second barrier - his 1m30.039s just 0.03s clear of George Russell's effort for fifth.

Pierre Gasly ensured both Alpines factored in the top six with his 1m30.100s, one hundredth of a second faster than Stroll.

Nico Hulkenberg took his Haas into eighth on the timing board, despite being branded a "joke" by Charles Leclerc, who had an early run-in with the German through the final corner and found him moving slowly on the apex.

Leclerc was ninth quickest, with Sainz completing the top 10 as Ferrari struggled for pace, having placed seventh and 11th in the earlier practice session.

The top 11 was covered by just a second, with Lewis Hamilton 0.996s shy of Verstappen's ultimate pace on softs, as Lando Norris was a further tenth behind his countryman.

Yuki Tsunoda beat Alex Albon to 13th, although the Williams driver's best time was set on the medium compound of Pirelli tyres.

Nyck de Vries, who was 17th quickest, was shown the black and white flag for crossing the white line on the entry to the pitlane - and late on endured a near miss through Turn 1 with Hamilton and had to take evasive action.

The Mercedes driver was exiting the pits as de Vries was passing through the first corner, and on finding the Briton on the outside line out of Turn 2 the Frieslander had to pull right to avoid contact.

F1 Saudi Arabian GP - Free Practice 2 results

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Laps Time Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull Red Bull 29 1'29.603  
2 Spain Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes 26 1'29.811 0.208
3 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull Red Bull 26 1'29.902 0.299
4 France Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 27 1'30.039 0.436
5 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes Mercedes 27 1'30.070 0.467
6 France Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 28 1'30.100 0.497
7 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 27 1'30.110 0.507
8 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 27 1'30.181 0.578
9 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 28 1'30.341 0.738
10 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari Ferrari 29 1'30.592 0.989
11 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 27 1'30.599 0.996
12 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 27 1'30.721 1.118
13 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull 30 1'30.776 1.173
14 Thailand Alex Albon Williams Mercedes 27 1'30.810 1.207
15 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 25 1'30.820 1.217
16 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 27 1'30.837 1.234
17 Netherlands Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Red Bull 29 1'30.921 1.318
18 United States Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 30 1'30.959 1.356
19 Australia Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 26 1'30.964 1.361
20 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 30 1'31.052 1.449

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