Verstappen dominates first practice session at Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix got off to an exciting start with the initial practice session revealing some surprises. Red Bull drivers dominated the session, with Max Verstappen setting an impressive pace despite missing Thursday’s media day due to a stomach bug.
In the initial practice session at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the Aston Martins were pursued by the two Red Bull drivers who took the lead. Max Verstappen was the quickest in his first session of the weekend, while Sergio Perez managed to surpass Fernando Alonso in the final moments to secure second place. Additionally, the Ferrari team installed new engines during the session.
Max Verstappen, who emerged as the victor of the Bahrain Grand Prix, was unable to attend the media day in Jeddah on Thursday due to a stomach ailment which led to his delayed flight. However, he was able to join the practice session on Friday despite spending the initial 20 minutes in the garage, and proceeded to set an impressive pace in FP1.
By utilizing soft tyres, Max Verstappen was able to complete a succession of speedy laps which allowed him to claim the leading position during the practice session. His final lap, which was clocked at 1m29.662s just a few minutes before the end of the session, was almost half a second faster than the best time of his closest competitor.
Surprisingly, that competitor turned out to be his teammate at Red Bull, Sergio Perez, who managed to surpass Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin with a swift final lap.
Sergio Perez was unable to keep pace with his teammate and ended up trailing by 0.483s during the initial practice session. Frustrated, Perez conveyed to his team that he was experiencing difficulty with the front end of his car.
Meanwhile, Lance Stroll, who had been lagging behind his teammate Fernando Alonso for the majority of the session and was placed in 11th position, managed to improve his performance in the final moments of the session. His lap time enabled him to advance to fourth place, but he was still approximately two and a half tenths of a second behind Alonso.
George Russell, driving for Mercedes, secured the fifth fastest time in the practice session, but his quickest lap was 1.154s slower than Verstappen’s leading time. His teammate, Lewis Hamilton, trailed behind by an additional 0.018s and ended up in sixth place.
Both drivers from the Ferrari team had their engines replaced as a precautionary measure following Charles Leclerc’s control electronics failure which caused him to retire from the Bahrain Grand Prix. Carlos Sainz was the quickest Ferrari driver, securing seventh place in the practice session. Meanwhile, Pierre Gasly of Alpine struggled with his brakes, stating that they were “completely rubbish” during the session. He ended up in eighth place.
Completing the top 10 were Alex Albon from Williams and Yuki Tsunoda from AlphaTauri. Charles Leclerc, who is set to receive a 10-place grid penalty for the race, finished 11th in the session.
The lead McLaren car, driven by Oscar Piastri, was approximately 1.874s slower than Verstappen’s leading time, placing him in 14th position, narrowly ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, the fastest driver from Haas.
Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, who are drivers for Alfa Romeo, finished in 18th and 19th position, respectively, and were separated by a mere 0.016s. However, they were approximately 2.3s slower than Verstappen’s fastest lap time. Lando Norris of McLaren had the slowest time among all drivers, finishing at the bottom of the timesheet.
Here are the results from the first practice session at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix:
Pos Name Car Best Time Gap Leader 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m29.617s 2 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1m30.1s +0.483s 3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m30.315s +0.698s 4 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m30.577s +0.96s 5 George Russell Mercedes 1m30.771s +1.154s 6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m30.787s +1.17s 7 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1m30.924s +1.307s 8 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault 1m30.949s +1.332s 9 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 1m31.03s +1.413s 10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m31.11s +1.493s 11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m31.118s +1.501s 12 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m31.181s +1.564s 13 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m31.45s +1.833s 14 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 1m31.491s +1.874s 15 Nico Hülkenberg Haas-Ferrari 1m31.552s +1.935s 16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m31.566s +1.949s 17 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 1m31.922s +2.305s 18 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m31.97s +2.353s 19 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m31.986s +2.369s 20 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m32.149s +2.532s
Red Bull practice dominance Red Bull practice dominance Red Bull practice dominance
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