Day One of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend has officially concluded with a few impediments on the way. As for FP1, after 18 minutes, the 50-metre board on the approach to Turn 1 became loose and dropped onto the track, necessitating the use of a red flag. A succession of cars, led by Lando Norris’ MCL36, ran over it, scattering the debris, hence calling for the first red flag of the day. FP2 started 10 minutes late due to a emergency meeting held by F1 to discuss whether they should go on with the Grand Prix after the Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack on the oil refinery near the Jeddah track.
The Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell enhanced their tempo as the temperatures dropped and the focus shifted to effectiveness in the two crucial free practice runs ahead of the main race on Sunday. 7-time world championship winner Lewis Hamilton seemed to be dealing better with the consistent issue of porpoising on Friday with him clocking a fastest lap of 1m32.364s in FP1 and improving his timing to 1m30.513s during FP2.
Newly recruited Mercedes driver George Russell didn’t exactly have the best qualifying result on last Saturday with the Briton being out-qualified by Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas whom he replaced at Mercedes. On Friday, he seemed to be still struggling with the consistent issue of porpoising more than British teammate Hamilton with Russell setting his fastest lap at 1m32.839s in FP1. He did however improve his timing to a considerable greater extent in FP2 by setting a time of 1m30.664s.
How well did Red Bull fare in the two practice sessions of the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix?
Red Bull who had a disastrous weekend at the Bahrain Grand Prix season opener seemed to be getting back on their feet again during the two practice sessions at Jeddah. Both the Red Bulls didn’t finish their race on Sunday. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez had to retire their RB18s in the closing laps due to a fuel pump issue after particularly having a great pace throughout the race.
Max Verstappen seemed to push hard as he put forth a timing of 1m30.888s in FP1 and enhanced his timing to 1m30.214s in the second practice run at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. He already has the added pressure of defending his title as world champion this season and will look forward to regain from the disaster that was the Bahrain Grand Prix for him.
Verstappen’s Mexican teammate Sergio Perez on the other hand set a timing of 1m31.563s and improved it to 1m30.360s in FP2 which was delayed by a while due to the disturbance that took place in the Aramco facility. If Red Bull keep this performance up in qualifying today, they might have a great shot to compete with Ferrari this weekend who are the season favourites this season for the title race.