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Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix 2024

Leclerc on song in FP2 but big question mark hangs over Albon

Ferrari impressed in the second practice session at Melbourne's Albert Park but what of Alex Albon who sat out the entire session?

Leclerc Australia
To news overview © XPBimages

Charles Leclerc comfortably topped the second practice session timesheet for the Australian Grand Prix for which Alex Albon was sidelined.

Leclerc eased into the hour-long session at Melbourne's Albert Park which delivered its traditional mix of soft-tyre runs followed and longer outings on the yellow-striped medium Pirellis.

The Monégasque, fourth and third in the opening two grands prix in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, was comfortably quickest at the end of FP1 with a lap time of 1:17.277s, with the SF24 looked planted around a tricky track that continued to catch out many.

Leclerc finished 0.381s ahead of Max Verstappen in his Red Bull. The three-time F1 champion had to bide his time before taking part due to sustaining floor damage to his RB20 in FP1, necessitating a change.

Verstappen did not set a time in FP2 until 25 minutes into the session, but even then the medium-tyre lap was compromised due to him making a slight mistake.

Once on the softs, Verstappen's first significant flier saw him match the time of Carlos Sainz in his Ferrari of 1:17.707s. At that stage, a Ferrari one-two was on the cards.

Verstappen, though, on another set of softs, managed to shave 0.049s off his time to move within four-tenths of a second behind Leclerc, underlining the impressive nature of the latter's lap.

Result Free practice 2 - Australian

# Driver Team Time Tyre
Results are being loaded...

The big question, though, surrounds Williams' Alex Albon who suffered a heavy crash in the opening practice session.

With 20 minutes to go, Albon triggered a red-flag period after his car bounced off the exit kerb at turn six before spearing into a wall and causing extensive damage to both sides of the FW45.

Williams later confirmed Albon would not participate in FP2 and, more significantly, that the team did not have a spare chassis.

If the team discover the tub is damaged and unable to be repaired, and given it is extremely unlikely it would be unable to fly out a new one in time for the final session, and ultimately qualifying, team principal James Vowles has a major dilemma.

If permitted within the regulations, Vowles would have to decide whether to sideline Logan Sargeant, and instead hand Albon the young American's car.

Sargeant had his own issues in his FP2, fortunately avoiding a crash of his own after spinning following a touch with the gravel on the exit of turn 13.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Behind the leading trio, Aston Martin delivered a solid session, with Lance Stroll fourth quickest, 0.545s behind Leclerc, and 0.090s ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso.

Mercedes' George Russell was sixth, 0.674s off the pace, although at least he had an easier time than team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who finished the session down in 18th, 1.557s down.

Significantly, Hamilton was unable to get in his push lap on the softs, while late in the run, he sustained an issue with the left-front cake tin, the carbon fibre brake shroud on his W15 that required some good old-fashion duct tape to help repair.

Oscar Piastri was the lead McLaren, exactly eight-tenths of a second down. Team-mate Lando Norris, who had topped FP1, was a further 0.078s adrift, with Red Bull's Sergio Perez the filling in papaya sandwich.

Yuki Tsunoda completed the top 10, the Japanese the only other driver within a second of Leclerc. His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was over three-tenths of a second behind in 12th. Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu was 11th.

With Albon not on track, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was slowest, the Dane two seconds behind Leclerc.

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