FP2: Hamilton leads Bottas as Leclerc walks away from high-speed crash under the Jeddah lights
Friday night heralded the first glimpse of F1 cars turning laps on a floodlit Jeddah Corniche Circuit, and it was Lewis Hamilton who went top in FP2 ahead of Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas and AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly. The session was then red-flagged with under five minutes remaining for a heavy Charles Leclerc crash.
Leclerc crashed his Ferrari at high speed late in the session having spun into the barriers at Turn 23, thankfully climbing out of the car and walking away – his chassis clearly having taken the brunt of the impact. He finished 10th in the session.
Hamilton's first soft-tyred run yielded a scary moment when he encountered a slow-moving Haas exiting Turn 10 midway through the session, but the FP1 leader had already set the fastest time of 1m 29.018s on mediums, his team mate Bottas just 0.061s back in P2 (also on mediums) and Gasly another 0.020s off in P3 for AlphaTauri – albeit on soft tyres.
WATCH: Ride onboard with Verstappen as F1 debuts at the spectacular Jeddah Corniche Circuit
As for Verstappen, the championship leader complained that he couldn't get his front soft compounds into the right temperature window after his first runs. The Dutchman extended his qualifying run in FP2 with an eye on Saturday's crucial session, and finished fourth having set his fastest lap on softs.
Alpine continued to show competitive pace as this weekend they aim to consolidate fifth in the constructors' championship. Fernando Alonso finished fifth and Esteban Ocon sixth, while Ferrari's Carlos Sainz finished just behind in P7 – all three setting their benchmarks on softs.
FORMULA 1 STC SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX 2021
Saudi Arabia 2021
Practice 2 results
|1 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||1:29.018|
|2 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes||+0.061s|
|3 Pierre Gasly GAS AlphaTauri||+0.081s|
|4 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||+0.195s|
|5 Fernando Alonso ALO Alpine||+0.423s|
Yuki Tsunoda underlined AlphaTauri's stellar pace by finishing eighth on hard tyres, while Sergio Perez was nearly two-tenths off in P9 on softs. Rounding out the top 10 was Leclerc – 0.004s behind the Red Bull of Perez using the same compound – before crashing with under five minutes left on the clock.
READ MORE: Piastri equals Leclerc record with F2 pole in Jeddah ahead of Shwartzman and Pourchaire
McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo took 11th on hard compounds, his team mate Lando Norris 12th on softs. Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi was fifth in FP1 but 13th in the second session, ahead of team mate Kimi Raikkonen.
Up next were the Aston Martins, with medium-tyred Lance Stroll taking 15th ahead of soft-shod Sebastian Vettel in P16.
That left the Williams and Haas drivers backing up the leaderboard, with George Russell 17th and his team mate Nicholas Latifi 19th; Mick Schumacher was 18th after a brush with the barriers and Haas team mate Nikita Mazepin 20th, having spun at Turn 2 late on.
So after a first day of running in Saudi Arabia, the Silver Arrows were the ones sparkling under the lights – but will Verstappen be able to claw back some pace for qualifying on Saturday? Stay tuned to F1.com for live coverage and up-to-date reaction.