Saudi Arabia FP2: Red Bull and Alonso lead, encouraging signs for Ferrari

FP2 Arabia Saudita

Max Verstappen was the fastest in Saudi Arabia’s FP2 session, where the RB19s impressed once again. Fernando Alonso separated the two Red Bulls in second place, two-tenths behind the reigning World Champion.

Behind the top three were; Ocon, Russell, Gasly, Stroll, Hulkenberg and then the Ferrari duo – only ninth and tenth – but considering the season opener in Bahrain, the team’s short-run pace is the last of the concerns in Maranello.

FP2 Saudi Arabia

FP2 Saudi Arabia: Red Bull fastest in the long runs, Ferrari conceals qualifying pace

Red Bull was convincing in both short and long runs: The Austrian team generally turns its engine up more than Ferraro on Fridays, but the RB19 excelled in all sections of the track.

Alonso and Ocon, former teammates, were within touching distance of Verstappen in the first sector. Aston Martin proved very competitive in the second sector, whilst in the last sector, the RB19s and Nico Hulkenberg’s VF-23 were at the front.

As might be expected, Verstappen and Perez showed virtually non-existent degradation in the late session long runs – although Aston Martin and Ferrari matched them in the first laps from the race simulation.

The times will be analysed further later this evening, although the cars produced in Milton Keynes appear in control ahead of Sunday.FP2 Saudi Arabia

Ferrari showed its limitations in the first sector (3-tenths off Verstappen). Ironically, this is where the F1-75 was strongest.

Red Bull extends its advantage throughout the lap, with Ferrari unable to match the performance of the RB19. Then again, Ferrari is likely to turn up its engine and reveal the SF-23’s ultimate pace later on. Race pace, the Italian car’s Achilles heel, will be analysed later.

Mercedes were a few steps behind Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, losing time in all three sectors. Lewis Hamilton, much like last year, failed to find a good balance in the first sector – where Russell enjoyed a 4-tenth advantage.

FP2 Saudi Arabia

Alpine was extremely impressive – we previously anticipated that the A523’s potential was not fully realised in Bahrain.

Ocon and Gasly were both in the top 6 in the Qualifying simulations, a clear improvement compared to last week. Once again, Hulkenberg was strong in the short runs, an area where both the McLarens and Alfa Romeos struggled.

Alpha Tauri and Williams have progressed, but they find it difficult to unlock the performance to score points without relying on others having issues.

Author: Andrea Vergani

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang