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Alonso splits the Bulls in FP2


Ahead of today's second practice session the air temperature is 26 degrees C, while the track temperature is 31 degrees.

As a reminder, upgrades for this weekend are as follows:

Red Bull has a revised Beam Wing and Rear Wing (Flap & Endplate), Ferrari a Front Wing (Endplate), Beam Wing and Floor Edge, while Mercedes has a new Rear Wing (Flap) and Floor Fence.

At Alpine there's a new Beam Wing, while McLaren has an updated Rear Wing and Diffuser and Alfa Romeo new Front Wing (Flaps) and Rear Wing (Main Plane).

At Aston Martin its Front Wing (Flaps), Rear Wing (Flap) and Beam Wing, at Haas new Front Wing (Flaps) and Rear Wing (Flap), AlphaTauri has a new Rear Wing, while those busy little beavers at Williams have an upgraded Front Wing (Gurneys), Beam Wing, Rear Brake Winglets, Front Brake Ducts (Exit) and Engine Cover (Gurneys).

Max Verstappen was quickest earlier, ahead of Perez and the Aston Martins, while the Mercedes pair were fifth and sixth.

With new engines, Sainz and Leclerc were 7th and 11th, respectively, while Norris, was last on the timesheets.

The lights go green and Stroll leads the way, followed by Sargeant, Sainz, Alonso, Hulkenberg and Bottas. A mixture of hards and mediums.

Unlike earlier, Verstappen is among the first out. Indeed, just moments in to the session all bar his Red Bull teammate are on track.

No sooner has Alonso gone quickest with a 31.392 than Sainz responds with a 31.080.

Five minutes in and Perez heads out.

Leclerc goes second with a 31.266, but is demoted when Verstappen stops the clock at 30.801.

As was the case in Bahrain, conditions for this session are far more representative of qualifying and the race, so we can expect the drivers to be busy.

A 30.612 sees Alonso retake the top spot as Aston Martin remains a genuine contender, certainly as far as podiums are concerned.

Perez posts a 30.428 but Verstappen is already looking set to go even quicker. Indeed, purples in the first two sectors are enough for a 30.058.

Alonso is told that the wind is "half the strength of what it was earlier" and that his tyre temps are 10 degrees below target.

"Hulkenberg or whoever that Haas is, it is just a joke," complains Leclerc as he encounters a slow Hulkenberg on the racing line in Turn 13.

Verstappen complains that his headrest is loose and that he's lying down in the car and therefore "can't feel the car".

Eleven minutes in and there's a brief lull as everyone pits. After a couple of minutes the Williams pair head out, both on softs.

The rear wing on the Williams is smothered in striking red flo-vis, as slo-mo shots show it to be oscillating wildly.

Alonso, on softs, goes quickest in the first two sectors before running wide in Turn 22 and aborting the lap.

A 29.902 sees Perez go quickest, the Mexican quickest in the final sector only.

Russell improves to sixth with a 30.756 at which point there are double waved yellow in S2. This ruins Sainz' planned flying lap.

Replay shows a couple of nasty close encounters, one featuring Alonso as he encounters a slow Sainz.

This really is a track at which an accident is waiting to happen.

No sooner has Leclerc improved to fourth, than he is demoted by Hulkenberg and Gasly.

Verstappen goes quickest in S1, as Piastri goes 15th overall. A PB in S2 is followed by a poor S3, nonetheless he goes quickest with a 29.603.

Sainz can only manage eighth (30.592), as Alonso improves to within 0.208s of Verstappen.

A 30.070 sees Russell go fourth as Stroll stops the clock at 30.110 to go fifth.

A struggling Hamilton can only manage 11th (30.599).

"We need to make some changes," urges Russell as Ocon goes fourth with a 30.039.

De Vries gets the black and white flag for crossing the line at the pit entrance.

The qualifying sims over - Verstappen quickest ahead of Alonso, Perez, Ocon and Russell - the drivers switch to mediums as focus turns to the race.

The camera cuts to a very slow Leclerc exiting the pitlane however he is told that there isn't an issue, merely an error with his clutch paddle, and can continue. Elsewhere, Russell, who is preparing for a practice start, almost trips up over Sargeant as he is released into the pitlane.

"The grid is tighter now," James Vowles tells Sky Sports, "it's fair to say we are in the hunt and in a fight with two or three teams. Whichever team does the perfect job walks away with a point. This track I expect to suit us a little more than Bahrain."

"My downshifts are really, really bad," warns Verstappen. Asked by his engineer how bad and if there is a specific corner, the Dutchman utters a string of bleeped out expletives.

"I've got too much traffic," complains Leclerc. He subsequently complains of a "big surge" or was it big Serge? Fact is, after last year, and then Bahrain, the youngster is understandably nervous.

Possibly rehearsing for Sunday, Alonso gets a nice tow from Hulkenberg on the run to Turn 1, nailing the Haas driver as they enter the corner.

Moments later the Ferrari pair come close to colliding in what would have been a disaster for the Maranello outfit.

The session ends. Tsunoda, Sargeant and Bottas (30) have completed the most laps, ahead of Verstappen, Sainz and de Vries who completed 29. With 25, Albon completed the fewest.

Verstappen is quickest, ahead of Alonso, Perez, Ocon, Russell, Gasly, Stroll, Hulkenberg, Leclerc and Sainz.

Hamilton is eleventh, ahead of Norris, Tsunoda, Albon, Magnussen, Zhou, de Vries, Sargeant, Piastri and Bottas.

Check out our Friday gallery from Jeddah here.


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1. Posted by alvarezh3, 18/03/2023 16:58

"@Kenji and Chester

I thought I was the only one having trouble understanding her.

Reminds me when I went to London, I could understand everyone but a taxi driver we took, nice chap but I had to keep on pleading my wife (she went to english speaking school all her life) to please "translate" what he was saying."

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2. Posted by Editor, 18/03/2023 12:49

""My aesthetic sense tells me she should forgo bangs and grow the front longer, or try another hair style."

Jesus H... is this what we've f****** come to?

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3. Posted by Chester, 18/03/2023 12:28

"I have the same trouble understanding her speech. Maybe that is why Stroll made so many questionable moves last year- misunderstanding. Kidding, of course.

My aesthetic sense tells me she should forgo bangs and grow the front longer, or try another hair style.

All told, I much prefer her to "homer" Ted Kravitz who always sugar coats and preens British drivers, while throwing others under the bus when they entangle with British drivers. A rant, i know. But I feel his bias palpably.

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4. Posted by Spindoctor, 18/03/2023 9:27

"Looking forward to quali....."

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5. Posted by kenji, 18/03/2023 1:00

"@Alvarezh3 evidently the lady to whom you refer is Bernie, formerly a strategist with AM I believe. She seems to be well informed, as one would expect, the only problem though is that I am struggling to understand her speech. Heavily accented and at machine gun rapidity makes it very difficult to fully comprehend."

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6. Posted by alvarezh3, 17/03/2023 20:34

"Where is Ted Kravitz? He sick? Anyone knows? Already on vacation or being replaced by a long haired and British green attired blond engineer?

Sky F1 just not the same without his charismatic personality, although the lady certainly seems to know her discipline ! :-)"

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