Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Round 1: Leclerc leads Verstappen ahead!

Saudi Arabia held F1 for the first time last year, but the race took place at the end of the year.

This time the race took place in March and the windy weather welcomed the drivers in the first session on Friday. There was a lot of dust on the truck as well.

Contrary to expectations, there were no accidents during the session. The only red flag in the session came after McLaren driver Lando Norris collided with a sign just before the first corner. After that, the course was cleared in a short time and the session was resumed.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen arrived in the garage one lap later due to a hydraulic leak and never returned to the track to replace the radiator.

Especially in the first and last corners of the truck, there were names overflowing from the truck. Also, due to the wind, drivers sometimes went off course in different parts of the course. Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen were also one of the names that didn’t get going.

After the first 15 minutes of the session, Verstappen took the lead on a lap of 1: 31,298. The Dutch pilot was doing this lap with hard tires. Then he did 1: 30,888.

The session seemed to end this way, but Bahrain Grand Prix winner Charles Leclerc stepped onto the stage and set the best time for Softlab until 1: 30.772, 0.116 seconds ahead of Verstappen.

Verstappen focused on another program and was unable to improve his degree despite using soft tires in the final round. As a result, the Dutch driver ended the session with a hard rubber lap of 1: 30,888, 0.116 seconds behind Leclerc.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

In Alfa Romeo, Valtteri Bottas gave Saudi Arabia positive momentum from Bahrain, finishing third on Friday’s first practice session with a lap of 1: 31,084. This lap was 0.312 seconds slower than Leclerc.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz finished in 4th place, 0.367 seconds behind, despite canceling a few laps of soft rubber in the final section.

Interestingly, all vehicles with Red Bull engines were in the top seven. Pierre Guthrie, who switched to a completely new power unit after being stuck on the road in Bahrain, finished fifth on the AlphaTauri AT03, 0.545 seconds behind. His teammate Yuki Tsunoda continued with a delay of about 0.2 seconds.

Despite using softer tires than Verstappen, Sergio Perez finished in 7th place in about 0.7 seconds.

Esteban Ocon, who switched to a new side pod design this weekend, set the eighth best time at Alpine, and teammate Fernando Alonso finished in 10th place after switching to a new internal combustion engine.

Once again, Mercedes was suffering from ripple problems. Lewis Hamilton finished the session in 9th place, 1.592 seconds behind Leclerc. George Russell was even behind, only 15th place, two seconds behind. Still, Mercedes drivers spent most of their sessions trying to understand the car rather than trying the fastest lap.

At McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris got off to a better start than Bahrain. Nevertheless, Daniel Ricciardo recorded 1,734 seconds in 11th place and Lando Norris recorded 1,822 seconds in 13th place.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Photo: Stephen Tea / Motorsport Image

For Aston Martin, Lance Stroll and Nico Hulkenberg couldn’t make it into the top 10. The walk ended in 12th place and H├╝lkenberg was in 16th place.

Guanyu Zhou scored points in the first race, carefully started in Jeddah and finished 14th in the first session.

Williams drivers Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi were as late as the first race. Albon was only 17th and Latifi was 18th.

In Haas, Mick Schumacher set the fastest time in the middle batter and finished in 19th place. Kevin Magnussen finished in 20th place after failing to record a time lap.

Schumacher recorded the fastest lap with medium and Verstappen recorded the fastest lap with hard tires, while 17 drivers recorded the fastest lap with soft tires. (+Magnussen does not have a time tour *)

The second training session will be held at 20:00 TSi.

Session result: