Fernando Alonso topped a rain-affected second practice session at the Australian Grand Prix ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
After a sunny and reasonably warm first practice hour, Melbourne turned cool and overcast in time for the final session, and light rain drops as pit lane opened made clear the threat of rain.
The ambient temperature was just 61 degrees F, with the track barely warmer at 80 degrees F, and both were dropping as the weather changed.
Anticipating heavier rain, most drivers were sent onto the track in the opening minutes to try to get some representative dry running in, but it did little more than generate some significant traffic problems for most. Even Red Bull Racing was caught out, with Max Verstappen reprimanding his own team for failing to warn him that Carlos Sainz was closing fast behind him on a hot lap.
No one got more than a couple of attempts at a hot lap in the dry. The rain finally struck the track around 15 minutes into the hour, and despite some prediction it would soon ease, it only intensified, rendering the rest of the session unrepresentative ahead of what is expected to be a dry grand prix.
With an outside chance of a damp qualifying, however, everyone bar Nyck de Vries and Logan Sargeant switched to intermediate tires for the final 45 minutes to sample the slippery track. But none could trouble the leaderboard, with Alonso having managed to capitalize on the brief dry conditions to take top spot with a run on the medium tire, his time of 1m18.887s only 0.1s slower than Verstappen’s best from earlier in the day.
Leclerc followed at 0.445s off the pace, while Verstappen was 0.615s adrift in third. George Russell was fourth ahead of Sainz, Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez, Lando Norris, Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly.
Yuki Tsunoda, who had a new gearbox installed between practice sessions, was 11th ahead of Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Oscar Piastri and Zhou Guanyu.
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Lance Stroll was 16th despite skating through the gravel in the early slippery conditions. Nyck de Vries finished 17th after his run in dry weather ahead of Alex Albon and Kevin Magnussen.
Logan Sargeant didn’t set a lap, with work ongoing on his car after an electrical failure at the end of FP1.