The scenario doesn’t change: Max Verstappen doesn’t miss a beat. The world champion was the fastest in the second free practice session of the Saudi Arabian GP, setting a 1’29″603 on the soft tyres, which is only 14 thousandths quicker than in the morning session. There was no evolution of the Jeddah city track and there was a drop in asphalt temperature of over 14 degrees which should have allowed for an improvement in performance.
Red Bull has to deal with Aston Martin which confirms itself as the most consistent challenger to the RB19, because Fernando Alonso was good at putting a wedge in to separate Sergio Perez’s car, relegated to third place because the Spaniard, still in in great shape despite being 41 years old, he allowed himself the luxury of being second with a margin of 18 thousandths over the Mexican.
The “verdona” is a very consistent reality: Aston Martin took only a couple of tenths from the unleashed Verstappen, also finding good top speeds with a decidedly more unloaded wing configuration compared to Bahrain.
More was expected from Lance Stroll, only seventh and half a second off the pace, while the Asturian also amazed with his race pace surprisingly close to that of Red Bull, on a track where there is no tire degradation.
Watch out for the Alpine: Esteban Ocon climbed up to fourth place, with Pierre Gasly sixth, 51 thousandths behind his compatriot. The A523 seems to be growing, so much so that Mercedes is also installed: George Russell, in fact, places the W14 in fifth position between the two Enstone single-seaters. Russell halved the gap from Red Bull to less than half a second, while Lewis Hamilton never found the pace, continuing to take a second which relegates him to 11th place. The seven-times world champion is dejected to have a wrong black bolt again and Toto Wolff has promised it will be changed in time for Imola.
Ferrari continues to hide with Charles Leclerc ninth ahead of Carlos Sainz: the Monegasque conceded seven tenths to Verstappen in the flying lap, while the Spaniard is almost a second behind. This is not the real qualifying red: the two Prancing Horse riders ran with more fuel than their rivals, so much so that Nico Hulkenberg with the Haas was seventh, making him the first driver with the 066/7 power unit. The German gave the Ferraristi a couple of tenths: it’s the most eloquent sign that not only was there more fuel in the tank but also the mapping of the power unit was very deflated.
The redhead showed a better adaptation to the Arab city track than in Bahrain, but didn’t show her pace: the riders on a difficult track with very close walls, were unable to take the measurements on a track that requires the necessary confidence .
The Scuderia plays defensively: even in the second round aerodynamic tests were carried out with the flo wiz paint sprinkled on the rear wing equipped with a single pylon. It is the sign that there are still no clear ideas. The Vasseur management seems not to be conditioned by external pressure and carries forward its work plans to extract the maximum potential from the SF-23. Certainly not ideal for the Prancing Horse fans who expected to see an immediate reaction from the red and who, instead, have to wait until tomorrow to form an educated opinion on the Maranello car.
McLaren continues the difficult moment: Lando Norris invents a lap that puts him in 12th place, while Oscar Piastri 19th with the second MCL60, has to deal with Logan Sargeant, the American who arrived in the Circus without all the paeans of the Australian , and that with Williams allows himself to stay ahead of the most acclaimed rookie.
Nyck De Vries also bad with the AlkphaTauri: the Frisian, 17th, certainly cannot be satisfied with being the best of the “debutants”: on a very challenging track, knowing the secrets of the track helps and the boys are clearly in more difficulty. The Dutchman must give credit to Yuki Tsunoda who finished 13th with the AT04: the Japanese made the difference by also taking risks. At turn 23 Yuki grazed the wall on entry and then ended up wide: it went well for him…
Well Alexander Albon 14th with Williams ahead of Kevin Magnussen’s Haas who complains about the balance of his VF-23. Guanyu Zhou follows with Alfa Romeo: the C43 seems to be in trouble on a track that favors efficiency, but the Chinese has adapted more than Valtteri Bottas in serious trouble with Hinwil’s car.
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