Max Verstappen topped the second practice session for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from Fernando Alonso, as Aston Martin appear to be Red Bull‘s closest challengers in Jeddah.
Having been fastest in FP1 earlier on Friday, Verstappen was fastest on the medium and soft tyre runs under the floodlights at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, in more representative FP2 conditions.
His 1:29.603 was 0.208 seconds quicker than Alonso, who set his best time on his second flying run on the C4 soft tyres.
Sergio Perez was a further tenth behind,with Esteban Ocon impressing for Alpine in fourth place.
George Russell was not happy with the balance of his car on his initial qualifying simulation, but managed to be fifth, 0.467 adrift of Verstappen.
Pierre Gasly underlined Alpine‘s strong pace in sixth, ahead of Lance Stroll and Nico Hulkenberg.
Yet again, question marks remain over Ferrari as Charles Leclerc was ninth and Carlos Sainz 10th. However, if Bahrain is anything to go by, they should make a big step forward come qualifying.
Lewis Hamilton, who may look elsewhere should Mercedes not improve according to Toto Wolff, was down in 11th and nearly one second off Verstappen’s time.
Then came Lando Norris, Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon, although the Williams driver’s best lap was done on the medium tyres.
Kevin Magnussen, Zhou Guanyu, Nyck de Vries, Logan Sargeant and Oscar Piastri were all split by 0.144 seconds from 15th to 19th, whilst Valtteri Bottas was last for Alfa Romeo.
Traffic will be an issue
Given the high-speed nature of the circuit and the driver’s slowing down on cool down laps, there are always traffic problems around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
There were three notable incidents in FP2, with Alonso being caught up behind Sainz and Piastri having nowhere to go when an AlphaTauri and a Ferrari were in his way on the run down the back straight.
Sainz was then involved in another close-call when he came across a slow Perez at the end of the session.
Having an engineer who gives you clear information, in time, is more important than normal and a wrong call could lead to a penalty, should it happen in qualifying.