Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2024

Leclerc leads Verstappen, Hamilton only 18th in second practice

Formula 1

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Charles Leclerc put Ferrari at the top of the times at the end of the first day of running for the Australian Grand Prix.

Leclerc had been quickest early in the session, but improved with just over 20 minutes remaining in the session to a 1’17.277 to go just under four tenths faster than Max Verstappen

Carlos Sainz Jnr was third for Ferrari ahead of the two Aston Martins of Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso. George Russell was sixth for Mercedes, but team mate Lewis Hamilton was second-slowest of the drivers who set times, down in 18th.

The low-grip street circuit continued to prove tricky for many with several drivers again running off track, including Leclerc who ran onto the grass at turn one. Yuki Tsunoda reported damage on his floor after running wide, while Lewis Hamilton spent a small amount of time in the garage undergoing repairs to the cake tin on his front-right.

After Alexander Albon crashed in the opening session, his Williams was too damaged to participate in the second hour of running. His team mate Logan Sargeant gave his team a brief scare by skidding off at turn 12 and onto the gravel. Thankfully he managed to recover to the pits without much delay to his programme.

Fernando Alonso suffered a heart-stopping moment at turn six, the same corner that Albon crashed, but successfully kept his car out of the barriers. His team mate Lance Stroll ran slightly wide at the penultimate corner at turn 13 on a push lap, almost collecting a small bird on the grass. Later on in the session, Stroll had a second off at the same corner.

George Russell accused Sainz of driving “dangerously” slow along the long back straight approaching turn ten when he passed the Ferrari on a push lap. However, the incident was not deemed worthy of noting by race control. Stroll provoked complaints from Verstappen, Sainz and Leclerc in quick succession as the Aston Martin driver appeared to get in the way of all three during the long runs.

All drivers completed at least 20 laps through the session, save for Albon who did not participate. Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly completed the most laps, with 33 each.

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2024 Australian Grand Prix second practice result

116Charles LeclercFerrariSF-241’17.27726
21Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB201’17.6580.38121
355Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-241’17.7070.43025
418Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR241’17.8220.54529
514Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR241’17.9120.63531
663George RussellMercedesW151’17.9510.67424
781Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL381’18.0770.80029
811Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB201’18.0900.81333
94Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL381’18.1550.87823
1022Yuki TsunodaRB-Honda RBPT011’18.1880.91127
1124Zhou GuanyuSauber-FerrariC441’18.4211.14432
123Daniel RicciardoRB-Honda RBPT011’18.5341.25730
132Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW461’18.5781.30123
1477Valtteri BottasSauber-FerrariC441’18.5851.30832
1510Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5241’18.6911.41433
1627Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-241’18.7021.42528
1731Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5241’18.7051.42832
1844Lewis HamiltonMercedesW151’18.8341.55723
1920Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-241’19.2751.99831

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2024 Australian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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34 comments on “Leclerc leads Verstappen, Hamilton only 18th in second practice”

  1. This is why Albert Park should be the opening round of the season. A genuinely challenging track with low grip, and the capacity to catch both teams and drivers out. A far better prospect than a soulless desert venue where the teams have already spent several days testing.

    1. Yeah but you are looking at it from a sports perspective. Liberty looks at revenue.

      1. @Mayrton
        Red Andy is not Liberty. Red Andy is Red Andy. Telling him what his perspective is makes no sense.

        1. Thank you Asd, but I think it is called sarcasm.

    2. someone or something
      22nd March 2024, 10:50

      I agree, there’s just something about this track that captivates me. I’ve barely felt anything while watching the first couple of race weekends, but Albert Park is a different story. Feels like F1 is back.

  2. It’s crazy how far Hamilton has fallen. I’m genuinely expecting Ferrari to drop their offer before the end of the year. It’s sad to see but he needs to retire now. 6th race in a row where Russell is fighting for the top 3 and Hamilton won’t even make it out of Q1.

    1. I think Lewis has already said they are doing more testing of set-ups and new parts with his car. He talked about it only a few days ago. So I don’t think this is all down to his driving.

      Lewis maybe a little lacking in pace compared to George, but he is not driving the optimum version of the car.

      1. Exactly, and the whole point of testing something drastic is moot if there is no baseline to compare it to. Putting both cars on an experimental setup is not useful to anyone.

        That Mercedes feels the need to do this is of course not a great sign, but it’s nice to see them be open about it.

    2. Its a motivation problem i think, if the car doesnt have the potential he is not on his top form. It’s a scary prospect because drivers like Vettel and Ricciardo sort of did the same but never recovered, as if they lost their mojo at some point. Hamilton is of a different class of fighter though, if Ferrari can give him a car thats fast i am sure he will be up there in the fight.

      1. I think you are right. Drivers who have consistently fought for race wins and world championships seem to find it very hard to get motivated when fighting for lower places. It’s fully understandable especially if you’ve been on the merry-go-round of Formula One for so many years. Just like signing your first autograph’s when you enter F1 and become famous is exciting but after 18 years of it – not so much fun.

    3. armchair detractors as usual. Maybe inform yourself before spreading your biased nonsense.

      1. Inform myself of what @madmax ?

        I’ve stated nothing but fact and my opinion on Ferrari is just that. They’ve got an impressive Bearman waiting in the wings and are watching their star signing trundle round in the top 10.

        Hamilton used to be great, but as others have mentioned drivers like Vettel and Ricciardo were once too. Everyone has a limit and it looks like Hamilton is done.

        1. Don’t mind MadMax. He’s from the LH44 fan brigade. A premium member.

        2. If you’re basing your opinion on a couple okay results and a bad practice session then you really need to review your opinion as it seems to be omitting a lot of information. First bit of significant information to compare your opinion to; he was 3rd in the championship last year behind only the Red Bulls.

          1. Craig couple means two. Hamilton had been well beaten by Russell in the last 6 events. It not me who needs to review anything…

        3. Strange how when hamilton had a dominant car you always talked him up and now you always talk him down, while some of us are capable to see the importance of the car and in this case of free practice!

          You just said hamilton will not make it out of q1 based on practice result, how unrealistic is that?

      2. Again, calling other people biased lol.

    4. notagrumpyfan
      22nd March 2024, 9:20

      6th race in a row where Russell is fighting for the top 3 and Hamilton won’t even make it out of Q1.

      And from memory Hamilton made it into Q2 (and Q3) in the previous five rounds, so six in a row will be a challenge :P

      It’s known that Hamilton is often a slow starter to the season; even in some of his WDC seasons. I don’t expect anything different this season.

    5. I bet people will claim he is doing all the testing for the team. Bit hard to keep up as it is no longer in his interest to make the team stronger. My bet is he will be replaced during the summer break. Mercedes should use the opportunity to already let their next years driver make some mileage in that car.

      1. I bet people will claim he is doing all the testing for the team.

        Coming into the weekend Mercedes said they were going to doing some big experimental setups on both cars, anyone seen any sign that George has been involved in any experiment?

        1. Per Mercedes, no. Hamilton is the Guinea pig now for set up and probably correlation work. Because he is more experienced with both. Just like early 22. Results will be the same.

          1. no, they are sabotaging him because hes leaving. hes testing parts for george, not both cars.

    6. It’s pretty sad, but I genuinely wonder if we have already seen Hamilton’s last win.

      1. Which would go back to 2021, potentially he could’ve won brazil 2022, but for verstappen’s collision, there was some minor chance in usa and silverstone 2022, I think, and he got a pole in hungary 2023, but had a bad start and there was no chance.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets back to form at ferrari, but only if they have a quick car; while ferrari can’t be relied at all to win titles, a win is not out of the cards.

      2. It will take a miracle just to see another podium. You cannot escape dotage

    7. Conspiracy theory:)

      Not a HAM fan – quite the opposite but I think it’s rather obvious the relationship Between HAM and Merc/Toto is more than strained. Merc will do everything in their power to make sure HAM does not have a better year than George. They will try to prove they didn’t want to offer him more than a 2 year contract because his skills have diminished. Basically the same as what Alpine did to ALO when they only offered him a 1 year contract.

      George is now the number 1 driver and will have the last say concerning chassis modifications etc. And if the rumors are true about Max possibly coming over in 2026, they may take his preferences into account. Lewis will get the short end of the stick. I wouldn’t call it sabotage but they won’t be doing him any favors.

      I’m sure Lewis knows he is a lame duck this year. Not to say he won’t have a good year as I don’t think he has lost much of his skill and his desire is still there. I think both parties will be relieved when they part.

  3. Also Fernando… Behind his teammate second practice in a row who isn’t exactly highly rated either

    1. It’s how they finish in the race. How many races has Lance finished ahead of ALO? Enough said.

  4. Hamilton has 8 points..

  5. Even if they strip the mad scientist set up from Hamiltons car Russells results say they are still nowhere in their pursuit of RBR.

    Russell probably has to be wondering where he can go next year too.

    1. thry have been building the car aound him for the last 2 plus years, george knows where hes going.

  6. Here we go, Ferrari building up hope so the tifosi can get their hearts broken on Sunday.

    1. Ya maybe Max will use the next higher gear on Sunday. :-)

  7. After all these Mercedes experiments you wonder if Hamilton has the ability to tell those at Mercedes what they need to do to get the car to his driving style. It is one try after another without knowing what they are actually doing. Strange..

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