Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc set the fastest time in Free Practice 2 ahead of world champion Max Verstappen. Sebastian Vettel could not start after his damage in FP1.

World championship leader Charles Leclerc proved his strong form with the best practice time ahead of the Australian Grand Prix. The Ferrari driver set the fastest lap of 1:18.978 minutes to open Friday’s session in Melbourne, edging out world champion Max Verstappen in the Red Bull by 0.245 seconds for second place.

Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari was close behind in third. While a duel between the Scuderia and Red Bull is again emerging Down Under, record world champion Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes only made it to 13th place.

After overcoming a coronavirus infection, Sebastian Vettel had to watch the second practice session. In the first session he had had to park his Aston Martin early with engine problems. It was not possible to get the car roadworthy in time. “I have problems with the engine,” the Hessian radioed to the pits. Vettel then reached for the fire extinguisher himself, as there was heavy smoke on his car. The 34-year-old drove back to the garage on a scooter to the cheers of the fans. This could have repercussions, as it is actually forbidden to drive on the track in this way.

Vettel had missed the first two rounds of the season due to a positive coronary test and will start the season late in Melbourne. Mick Schumacher also missed the race in Saudi Arabia after a violent accident almost a fortnight ago. The 23-year-old only finished 18th in practice at the Albert Park Circuit.

Before the third race of the season this Sunday, Leclerc (45 points) leads ahead of Sainz (33) and Verstappen (25).