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FP1: Championship leader Leclerc fastest over Verstappen in opening Saudi Arabian practice session

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Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc picked up where he left off in Bahrain as he set the pace in first practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Bahrain Grand Prix winner Leclerc, who didn’t break cover until halfway through the session, clocked a 1m 30.772s on the closing stages on the soft compound tyres.

READ MORE: Red Bull reveal cause of double Bahrain GP retirement – and say they don’t expect a repeat in Saudi Arabia

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who failed to score in Bahrain because of a fuel pressure issue that struck both Red Bull drivers, was second quickest.

Valtteri Bottas was a very impressive third for Alfa Romeo, ahead of the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, the top four separated by just over three tenths of a second.

Saudi Arabia 2022

Practice 1 results

PositionTeam NameTime
1LEC1:30.772
2VER+0.116s
3BOT+0.312s
4SAI+0.367s
5GAS+0.545s
View Full Results

AlphaTauri duo Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda were an encouraging fifth and sixth respectively ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez (P7).

Esteban Ocon was the leading Alpine in eighth, with Lewis Hamilton – who hit the wall late in the session on the approach to Turn 1 – was the best-placed Mercedes-powered car in ninth, 1.6s off the pace.

READ MORE: ‘I want to get in the fight as soon as possible’ says Hamilton, as Mercedes prepare to try fixes in Saudi

Fernando Alonso, whose Alpine team changed his internal combustion engine as a precaution after finding a suspected sealing issue, closed out the top 10.

McLaren showed more promise, having had a miserable time in Bahrain with Daniel Ricciardo 11th and Lando Norris – running a visor cam this weekend – 13th, the duo sandwiching the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll.

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FP1 Highlights: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Earlier in the session, Norris hit a loose-hanging brake marker board at Turn 1, scattering a significant amount of debris across the track and forcing a red flag to allow for a clean-up.

Rookie Zhou Guanyu – who scored a point on debut – pipped George Russell in the final few minutes for 14th with Nico Hulkenberg, in for Sebastian Vettel who is still testing positive for Covid-19, 16th.

READ MORE: Vettel to miss second race of 2022, as Hulkenberg steps in for Aston Martin in Saudi Arabia

The Williams duo of Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi were 17th and 18th respectively ahead Mick Schumacher in 19th. The other Haas of Kevin Magnussen failed to set a time, having suffered a hydraulic issue.

FP2 follows at 1700 local time with teams set to focus on race simulations.

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