Max Verstappen appeared in ominous form as the reigning World Champion completed a clean sweep of Friday by topping the second practice session in Saudi Arabia.
The Red Bull driver comfortably topped the opening session of the day and although his margin of superiority was reduced in the evening, he led the way by 0.2s over Fernando Alonso.
Other than occasionally being displaced, Verstappen ruled over the top of the order for much of the evening, eventually lowering the benchmark time to 1:29.603s.
READ MORE: F1 2023 Saudi Arabian GP – FP2 Results
Unsurprisingly, with conditions replicating those that will be seen during qualifying and the race, the teams were eager to send its drivers immediately out onto the track once the light went green at the end of the pit lane.
Alonso, third in FP1, was the first driver to venture out on the Soft tyres, but the two-time champion ran wide on his first lap and then encountered Carlos Sainz on his next time around.
While Perez was able to narrowly topple his team-mate, Verstappen responded to emerge three-tenths clear before Alonso got a clean lap in to split the Red Bull pairing.
Esteban Ocon wound up an impressive fourth as Pierre Gasly confirmed a promising Friday showing for Alpine by also appearing inside the top six.
It was contrasting fortunes down at Mercedes, however. One year on from his first Q1 elimination on pure pace since 2009, Lewis Hamilton struggled to a lowly 11th.
The seven-time F1 champion was half-a-second down on George Russell, who managed to catapult the troublesome W14 package into fifth.
Lance Stroll and Nico Hulkenberg, now of Haas, lined up together for Aston Martin during last season’s race weekend in Jeddah and were classified seventh and eighth respectively.
Like in the opening hour of the day, Ferrari appeared to be reluctant to show its hand as both its drivers only marginally made it inside the top 10.
Charles Leclerc, in particular, endured a rather troublesome second session. Traffic proved to be a hindrance for many throughout, but the Ferrari racer was especially incensed with Hulkenberg for dawdling on the racing line at the final corner earlier in proceedings.
Already facing a 10-place grid drop for Sunday’s race for taking on a third Control Electronics, Leclerc also briefly voiced concerns about a “big surge” from his engine over the radio.
He and Ferrari team-mate Sainz have both taken on new power units as a precautionary measure after the failure on Leclerc’s car in Bahrain.
Third practice for Formula 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is scheduled for 16:30 local time, with qualifying starting later on at 20:00 local time.
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