Formula 1: Training Saudi Arabia: Leclerc again ahead of Verstappen

Shock moment for Formula 1 at the Saudi Arabian GP: During the first free practice on Friday, only 22 kilometers away from the track in Jeddah, the Yemeni Houthi rebels attacked a facility of the state-owned oil company and F1 sponsor Aramco by drone (more Info here).

The start of the second training session will therefore be postponed by 15 minutes, as the drivers and team bosses will meet with the organizers at short notice. The official side then said: “The organizers are aware of the situation and are in constant contact with the Saudi authorities to ensure security.” Another meeting is scheduled for later in the evening.

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When it is finally driven, the picture from the first race and the first training session in Jeddah continues: with Ferrari star Charles Leclerc at the top. As in the afternoon (local time), the Monegasse is more than a tenth ahead of Max Verstappen even under floodlights: Leclerc is 0.140 seconds faster than the world champion, Ferrari gets its time especially in the first sector, sectors two and three then belong to the Red Bull.

In contrast to his flawless opening victory in Bahrain, Leclerc shows nerves on Friday: When he hits a wall in turn four, the world championship leader breaks the suspension on the front left, his session ends prematurely in the pits and he lacks the important long run simulations for the race. Verstappen, meanwhile, did not get his fastest lap over the line due to yellow flags, so he achieved his personal best time on the slower medium tires.

Fast on the move: Max Verstappen wants to hit back in Jeddah

For ex-world champion Jenson Button, the Red Bull makes the best impression on the high-speed circuit despite the two Leclerc best times: “The Red Bull lies a little differently on the road than the rest, apparently they can drive a little lower and also change direction look better with them”, judges Button after his impressions at the track. The fact that teammate Sergio Perez is noxh faster than the world champion in the last sector on Friday also shows that Verstappen still has a lot of room for improvement.

The Honda engine is causing concerns for Red Bull: After Pierre Gasly’s fire-out in Bahrain, the power unit of Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri also broke at the end of the training session. Verstappen still stays cool: “The team has looked through everything and I’m confident that we have overcome the reliability problems. We had no problems with the tests either,” he says, looking at Red Bull’s double-out at the start, but that’s up a defect in the fuel supply was due.

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Mercedes is also presenting itself in Saudi Arabia for the first time as the third force: Silver Arrow superstar Lewis Hamilton is more than four tenths behind Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez in fifth place, directly ahead of teammate George Russell. Hamilton still doesn’t really feel comfortable in the W13: At the beginning of the session, the Brit spends a long time in the pits so that the mechanics can change his seat.

Meanwhile, McLaren is showing a slight upward trend: After the complete crash at the start in Bahrain, Lando Norris ended the session in seventh place this time. Meanwhile, the misery continues at Aston Martin. Nico Hülkenberg, who again represents the Corona-positive Sebastian Vettel in Jeddah, cannot get past 16th place under floodlights, two tenths behind stable mate Lance Stroll.

Nico Hulkenberg is back in Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin

Things are going better for compatriot Mick Schumacher, who steers his Haas to 13th position, one second behind the top. “We were able to learn good things today. I think overall we know what kind of package we have and it’s now up to us to bring everything together,” says Schumacher, adding: “Of course it was unfortunate that both cars couldn’t drive today .”

Because team-mate Kevin Magnussen experienced a day to forget after his dream comeback last Friday in Bahrain. In the first practice session, the Dane was unable to drive due to technical problems, and he didn’t get very far in the second session either: After just 30 minutes, he coasted to the side of the track with a hydraulic problem on his fragile Haas.

Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
2. Free practice result

1. Charles Leclerc (Monaco) – Ferrari 1:30.074 mins
2. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) – Red Bull +0.140s
3. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) – Ferrari +0.246
4. Sergio Perez (Mexico) – Red Bull +0.286
5. Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain) – Mercedes +0.439
6. George Russell (Great Britain) – Mercedes +0.590
7. Lando Norris (Great Britain) – McLaren +0.661
8. Esteban Ocon (France) – Alpine +0.686
9. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) – Alfa Romeo +0.758
10. Yuki Tsunoda (Japan) – Alpha Tauri +0.812
11. Fernando Alonso (Spain) – Alpine +0.870
12. Pierre Gasly (France) – Alpha Tauri +0.889
13. Mick Schumacher (Gland/Switzerland) – Haas +1.095
14. Lance Stroll (Canada) – Aston Martin +1.298
15. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) – McLaren +1.453
16. Nico Hulkenberg (Emmerich) – Aston Martin +1.541
17. Zhou Guanyu (China) – Alfa Romeo +1.541
18. Nicholas Latifi (Canada) – Williams +1,740
19.Alexander Albon (Thailand)-Williams +1.792
20. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) – Haas +2.270

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