Max Verstappen doubles up as Red Bull Sweep Opening Day

Max Verstappen and Red Bull topped the timesheets in FP2 as the team laid down the challenge to everyone else with a 1:30.847s.

As seen in FP1, the track was busy for the truncated hour-long session in the night. Kimi Raikkonen went off at the exit of turn two that saw him kiss the barriers. That prematurely ended his session.

Halfway through, most teams strapped on the soft tyres for a qualifying simulation. Verstappen and Red Bull went fastest, although it wasn’t by the biggest of margins.

Lando Norris shone as his Papaya McLaren came alive on the low-fuel run. The young Englishman set a 1:30.942s to underline that McLaren may be the closest challengers to the top two teams.

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton set a 1:31.082s to take third while his long run pace on the medium tyres looked very competitive.

Conversely, his teammate struggled. Bottas went fifth fastest on the qualifying program, but he endured a tough time on his race run. Bottas’ pace was slower than his teammates, and he described the car as undrivable.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was solid on both the short and long runs; the Spaniard looked settled in his car. Yuki Tsunoda continued to impress; he even outpaced teammate Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman complained about a lot of oversteer on his car.

Fernando Alonso’s return didn’t spark into life under the lights. He was slow in his qualifying run, although he did do well in the race simulation. Antonio Giovinazzi had a solid outing in 13th.

Sebastian Vettel clocked more mileage under his belt after a troubled testing weekend. It seemed as if Aston Martin was focusing more on long-run pace with Vettel, whereas his teammate Lance Stroll finished eighth with a 1:31.393s.

The usual suspects finished bottom of the standings as Haas and Williams annexed the bottom four positions. The four drivers were the best part of two seconds off the leading pace.

The cars are back on track tomorrow morning for FP3 before qualifying tomorrow evening.