Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc set the benchmark in the delayed and elongated second practice session at the Las Vegas Grand Prix, beating his his team-mate Carlos Sainz as drivers started to get used to the challenging Nevada F1 circuit. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó reports on Free Practice 2.
A loose drain cover forced FIA to stop the on-track action after just eight minute of running in the opening practice at the Las Vegas Grand Prix. The red flag was brought out after Carlos Sainz ran over a drain cover that has caused extensive damage to his Ferrari SF23. The Spaniard’s incident followed a similar incident that included Esteban Ocon, who was also forced to abandon his running early on in the opening session.
Although marshals quickly started to remove Sainz’s Ferrari from the track, the FIA announced shortly afterwards that the session would not be resumes due to safety concerns.
After the FIA carried out an inspection of the drain covers and made repairs to them to ensure that they withstand the forces induced by the current generation of ground-effect F1 cars, the second session started over two hours later than originally planned.
As a result of the cancellation of the opening session, the second practice was extended by half an hour to become a 90-minute session and give teams extra track time.
Ferrari drivers dominated the extended session with Charles Leclerc ending up fastest with a time of 1m35.265s that he set on Pirelli’s soft compound. The Monegasque was followed by his team mate Carlos Sainz, who was over half a second adrift of the benchmark.
Following a strong showing in Brazil, Fernando Alonso appeared to be in great form once again, taking third for Aston Martin. His team-mate Lance Stroll set the 8th quickest lap, but he was over 1.2s off the pace.
Sergio Perez was the fastest Red Bull driver in fourth with his team-mate Max Verstappen finishing down in P6. However, it is worth noting that the Dutchman refused to complete multiple hot laps on his second fresh set of softs while his rivals set their best times later on during their multiple-lap stint on the red-walled tyres.
Valtteri Bottas took a surprising P5 while his team-mate Zhou Guanyu finished down in P18. Alfa Romeo’s big rival Haas appeared to be quick as well with Nico Hulkenberg putting his Haas seventh and Kevin Magnussen taking 13th.
Following their tyres woes in Sao Paulo, Mercedes had a quiet start to the weekend as Lewis Hamilton wound up ninth and team mate George Russell 12th.
McLaren appeared to be off the pace on the opening day as Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri took only 11th and 14th respectively. The team explained after the session that their performance level is similar to what they had expected before arriving in Las Vergas given the high-speed nature of the track.
Williams was expected to excel on the long straights of the Las Vegas F1 circuit, and Alexander Albon did not fail to impress in the middle phase of the session. However, the Thai driver slipped down the order as his rivals started to complete their final hot laps on fresh softs, and ended up 10th. His team-mate and home favourite Logan Sargeant brought up the rear in his Williams, some three seconds off the pace set by Leclerc.
AlphaTauri drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo were 17th and 19th respectively.
|3||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:35.793||+0.528s||38|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||1:36.085||+0.820s||36|
|5||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:36.129||+0.864s||36|
|6||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||1:36.183||+0.918s||37|
|7||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas Ferrari||1:36.489||+1.224s||33|
|8||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:36.496||+1.231s||41|
|10||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:36.688||+1.423s||42|
|11||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:36.864||+1.599s||33|
|13||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:36.917||+1.652s||37|
|14||81||Oscar Piastri||Mclaren Mercedes||1:36.987||+1.722s||35|
|15||10||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault||1:37.134||+1.869s||33|
|16||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:37.241||+1.976s||37|
|17||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||1:37.412||+2.147s||41|
|18||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:37.656||+2.391s||36|
|19||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||1:37.680||+2.415s||40|
|20||2||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes||1:38.140||+2.875s||42|