Charles Leclerc beats Max Verstappen in practice 

Charles Leclerc headed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in Friday practice at the Australian Grand Prix.

Leclerc ended the session 0.245 seconds ahead of the Dutchman, who appeared to have the potential to go faster had it not been for traffic and some errors. The second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz was 0.398secs off the pace in third place, ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Alpine, impressively competitive in fourth. Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were only 11th and 13th.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc set the fastest time in FP2 ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Scuderia teammate Carlos Sainz on Friday at the Australian Grand Prix.

Clouds unfurled over Albert Park for FP2, bringing a heightened but ultimately unrealised risk of rain. Medium-tyred runs came first, FP1 leader Sainz setting the early pace before softs were equipped and Leclerc shot to P1.

Verstappen jumped to second with under 20 minutes left, his opening soft-tyred runs compromised by traffic, then a lock-up in Sector 3 before the Dutchman finally managed a more representative lap on worn tyres to finish 0.245s off Leclerc and drop Sainz to third.

Seven-time champion Hamilton said it had been “a difficult session”.

“Nothing we change on the car makes a difference at the moment,” Hamilton said, “so that’s the difficult thing.

“You get in very optimistic and make changes, and then it doesn’t seem to be wanting to improve. We made some changes into P2. P1 was better, and P2 ended up being a bit harder for me. It’s just a tricky car.

“This is the way it is, so we just have to drive with it. That’s the frustrating thing. You’re trying to push and catch, and even when you do a decent lap, it’s 1.2 seconds down.

Sebastian Vettel under investigation for moped ride

Sebastian Vettel is under investigation after he used a moped to return to the Formula 1 paddock following opening practice for the Australian Grand Prix. 

The four-time world champion borrowed a moped from a marshal to ride back to the pits via the Albert Park circuit itself during a red flag period after his Aston Martin car stopped on track with an engine issue during the closing stages of FP1.

It means Vettel could face punishment from the FIA, with a hearing likely to occur before the second practice in Melbourne. However, any penalty is expected to be financial rather than a sporting penalty.

Article 26.7 of F1’s sporting regulations states that “during the period commencing 15 minutes before and ending five minutes after every session”, no one is allowed on-track, at pit entry or pit exit with the exception of:

  • Marshals or other authorised personnel in the execution of their duty
  • When either pushing a car or clearing equipment from the grid after all cars are able to do so, team personnel have left the grid on the formation lap.