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Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen went quickest in the second practice session for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but whereas team-mate Sergio Pérez followed the Dutchman on the timesheet of the opening hour, in the night session Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso split the Red Bulls, finishing just two tenths of a second behind Verstappen.
Alonso’s team-mate Lance Stroll took an early P1 in the session with a time of 1:32.293 set on medium tyres, but he was soon displaced by Carlos Sainz’s lap of 1:31.080 but as the opening flurry of runs played out Verstappen rose to the top with a lap of 1:30.801.
Alonso then cut almost two tenths off that time with a lap of 1:30.612 and Pérez made his first claim to top spot with a lap of 130.428.
Verstappen was flying, though, and after breezing past his team-mate to the tune of 0.4s he then lowered the benchmark with a lap of 1:29.952.
The field then began to switch to soft tyres for qualifying but Alonso wasn’t able to beat Verstappen’s earlier time with his first attempt of 1:29.985, which left the door open to Perez who put in a tour of 1:29.902 to jump ahead of his team-mate.
As the session reached the halfway mark, Verstappen finally emerged and he stopped the clock at 1:29.603 to once again rise to P1, nearly three tenths clear of Pérez. Alonso was out for another attempt, though, and this time his lap of 1:29.811 handed the Spaniard second place, just under a tenth ahead of Pérez.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon took fourth place in the session, though his lap of 1:30.039 was just 0.03s clear of Mercedes’ George Russell. Ocon’s team-mate Pierre Gasly finished in sixth place ahead of Stroll, while Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg finished eighth.
Ferrari endured a tough session, however, with both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz struggling for pace. Leclerc ended the session in ninth place, with Sainz rounding out the top ten.
Lewis Hamilton, in 11th place, was the last man within a second of Verstappen and the Mercedes driver ended the session just ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda.
2023 FIA Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 29 1:29.603
2 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 26 1:29.811 0.208
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 26 1:29.902 0.299
4 Esteban Ocon Alpine 27 1:30.039 0.436
5 George Russell Mercedes 27 1:30.070 0.467
6 Pierre Gasly Alpine 28 1:30.100 0.497
7 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 27 1:30.110 0.507
8 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 27 1:30.181 0.578
9 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 28 1:30.341 0.738
10 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 29 1:30.592 0.989
11 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 27 1:30.599 0.996
12 Lando Norris McLaren 27 1:30.721 1.118
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 30 1:30.776 1.173
14 Alex Albon Williams 27 1:30.810 1.207
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas 25 1:30.820 1.217
16 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 27 1:30.837 1.234
17 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri 29 1:30.921 1.318
18 Logan Sargeant Williams 30 1:30.959 1.356
19 Oscar Piastri McLaren 26 1:30.964 1.361
20 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 30 1:31.052 1.449
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