[Race Pace Analysis] Saudi Arabia GP – FP2
The second session of Free Practice of the Saudi Arabian weekend started with a 15-minute delay due to an emergency meeting between F1 and the drivers and teams’ representants.
Once the session went underway, it was evident that the struggle of the day would once again be tyre temperatures, as well as degradation. The delta between the Medium and the Soft compound seemed to be minimal, and most drivers preferred to do an extra warm-up lap before their quali sim on Soft tyres. The Hard tyres behaved better, seemingly the best choice of compound for Sunday’s race.
We are missing the two Ferraris in the race simulations, due to the drivers touching the wall with 15 minutes left in the session and not having enough time to go back out on the track again after the repairs.
RACE PACE ANALYSIS – FP2
The Mercedes drivers were among the first to start their long runs. Both Russell and Hamilton did a decent amount of laps on the Medium tyre compound – on which Hamilton averaged 1:36.0/lap, and Russell 1:36.143/lap. An encouraging simulation for the W13, which seems to lag slightly behind the RB18 just like it did in Bahrain.
Just like everyone else, Red Bull seemed to struggle with tyre temperatures especially when they switched to Soft tyres. Both drivers failed to improve their qualifying simulations on the softest compound of the weekend, but it is obvious that we’re in for another Red Bull versus Ferrari battle in the desert of Jeddah. In the long runs, with both drivers on the Medium compound, there was only two tenths diving Verstappen’s (1:35.2/lap) and Pérez’s (1:35.450/lap) averages.
After the disappointing outing in Bahrain, McLaren seemed to struggle again for pace today in Jeddah. Both Ricciardo and Norris did race simulations on the Medium compound, followed by a short stint on the Soft tyres for Norris. Over his long run, Ricciardo averaged 1:36.8/lap, about 4 tenths slower than Norris (1:36.4/lap).
Like McLaren, Aston Martin had a tough start to the season last week in Bahrain. With Hulkenberg again in the car, replacing Sebastian Vettel, the team focused mainly on their long runs today – without great results. Stroll only averaged 1:38.162/lap on the medium compound, while Hulkenberg matched Norris on his short stint on the Soft tyres (average: 1:37.335/lap), to then switch to the Hard compound with an okay-ish average of 1:36.543/lap.
Alpine decided to split duties between their two drivers: Alonso did a long run on Hard tyres, on which he averaged a respectable 1:35.9/lap, while Ocon took onto the track on the Medium compound, with a slightly higher average of 1:36.485/lap. With the fuel loads being unknown, it would seem that the Hard compound will be the race compound come Sunday.
With Tsunoda out of the session before he could start his long runs, Gasly was the only reference driver for AlphaTauri during FP2. On the Medium compound, the French driver was only a couple of tenths behind Russell, with an encouraging average of 1:36.3/lap.
Author: Toni Sokolov