Andretti’s Norman Nato topped the timesheets in the second Free Practice session, as the drivers took to the epic Diriyah track in the midday sun. His teammate and reigning World Champion Jake Dennis finished third, with Maserati MSG Racing’s Maximilian Guenther sandwiched between the two in second.
Nato set a 1m13.584s, and went fastest despite taking any ATTACK MODE on his lap unlike all those behind him. The extra boost takes a driver from a 300kW lap to 350kW, and will be a promising sign for the Frenchman as he gets ready for qualifying in a matter of hours.
Sebastien Buemi had a better second practice and slipped into fourth, as his car came to a halt during yesterday’s session forcing the team to replace his battery overnight. Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans rounded up the top five, despite some radio calls saying he wasn’t feeling too comfortable with the car for a large chunk of his lap.
The first session of race day was very different to what we’ll see when it’s time for lights out later, as track temperatures reached 35°C. Teams and drivers headed out in the midday sun to get as much track time and data as they could. Track evolution continues to be rapid here, as the dirt and dust from the desert is kicked up by the grid as they fly around this 2.49km circuit.
Yesterday during FP1, drivers stated that the conditions made it feel like they were driving in the wet. However, things were better for this half an hour slot as just 12 minutes in the times were quicker than Nissan’s Oliver Rowland managed yesterday - a 1m15.400s.
Jake Dennis topped the timesheets with a 1m15.067s as he set the three fastest sectors with 18 minutes to go, and continued to keep locking in faster laps over the session. The reigning champ managed to finish second here in both races last season, but will be wanting the win after a slightly disappointing start in Mexico City where he finished ninth.
Both Mahindras were looking rapid, with Edoardo Mortara and Nyck de Vries going first and second with 13 minutes left on the clock. The tem had a pointless-finish in Mexico, but have big plans for the future and will hope this is a sign of things to come. De Vries has won here twice before, and Mortara has had some amazing overtakes here in the past so it’s a place they know and love. Track evolution is fast here, and they ended up finishing 18th and 20th respectively.
Sebastien Buemi and Envision had a better session, as the Season 2 champ came to a standstill last night midway through FP1. After replacing Buemi’s battery overnight, the Swiss looked strong and will hope to later replicate his Julius Baer Pole Position that he achieved here in 2023. His teammate Robin Frijns had a close moment as he went wide at Turn 18 as he exited the end of the high-speed straight.
TAG Heuer Porsche’s Antonio Felix da Costa finished in 22nd after a tricky session, at a circuit where his teammate Pascal Wehrlein won both races over the double-header here last season.