F1: Verstappen tops Alonso in Saudi Arabian GP Practice 2

–by Mark Cipolloni–

Red Bull Honda F1 champion Max Verstappen put in a lap of 1m29.603s to top the 2nd practice session for the Saudi Arabian GP in Jeddah.

However, whereas it was his teammate Sergio Perez in 2nd place in Practice 1, this time it was Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin who was closest to the Dutchman, 0.208s behind.

The Mexican, who was on pole here last year,  had to settle for third, 0.299s behind as the track cooled some 15 degrees-C from the hot Practice 1.

Over his stomach bug, Verstappen means business – and is going to head into tomorrow as heavy favorite for pole.

Fernando Alonso is smiling. He knows his Aston Martin is quick

Esteban Ocon was 4th quick for Alpine, 0.436s behind while George Russell rounded out the top-5 for Mercedes, a respectable 0.467s behind and 1/2- sec. faster than his slower teammate, Lewis Hamilton.

Pierre Gasly was 6th in the 2nd Alpine, Lance Stroll seventh fastest in the #18 Aston Martin, and the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg in 8th.

At Ferrari… Neither driver got a fully clean quick lap in, but even so ninth for Charles Leclerc and 10th for Carlos Sainz Jr. is far from ideal from practice. Add in some sort of reliability problems for Leclerc and his incoming ten-place grid drop, and they have a mountain to climb here in Jeddah.

Worse yet, the Scuderia already changed both engines in their two cars here in Jeddah and it is only the 2nd race of the season.  Leclerc and his teammate have taken on new internal combustion engines for the weekend, with Leclerc also getting a fresh MGU-H – as part of what the team has described as “a further precaution”.

A general view showing Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 during practice 1 ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at the absolutely beautiful Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 17, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Meanwhile, Mercedes-powered McLaren have replaced a host of power unit components in Lando Norris’s car.

At Red Bull, Sergio Perez has been given his second energy store and control electronics, along with a new gearbox case and cassette, and new gearbox driveline, gearchange components and auxiliary components.

Red Bull and Aston Martin look quick, but will anyone join those two in the fight for pole tomorrow? The midfield is looking incredibly tight, with Ferrari and Mercedes looking to have their work cut out to get clear of the chasing pack and close up to the front two.

Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 17, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Practice 2 Results

1 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda Honda 1:29.603 +0.000s 28
2 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 1:29.811 +0.208s 25
3 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda Honda 1:29.902 +0.299s 25
4 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1:30.039 +0.436s 26
5 63 George Russell Mercedes 1:30.070 +0.467s 26
6 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 1:30.100 +0.497s 27
7 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 1:30.110 +0.507s 26
8 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 1:30.181 +0.578s 26
9 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:30.341 +0.738s 27
10 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:30.592 +0.989s 28
11 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.599 +0.996s 26
12 4 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 1:30.721 +1.118s 26
13 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda Honda 1:30.776 +1.173s 29
14 23 Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 1:30.810 +1.207s 26
15 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:30.820 +1.217s 24
16 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:30.837 +1.234s 26
17 21 Nyck De Vries AlphaTauri Honda Honda 1:30.921 +1.318s 28
18 2 Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 1:30.959 +1.356s 29
19 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 1:30.964 +1.361s 25
20 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:31.052 +1.449s 29