Saudi Arabian GP: Max Verstappen beats Fernando Alonso in tight second practice in Jeddah | F1 News

Max Verstappen was the best in both practices on Friday in Jeddah; Fernando Alonso shared the Red Bulls and finished second under the lights; Lewis Hamilton only 11th for Mercedes; Watch the final of the Saudi Arabian GP live on Sky Sports F1 on Saturday at 1.30pm

18:41, UK, Friday 17 March 2023

Max Verstappen completed a practice double at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Friday as Fernando Alonso finished second, further evidence of Aston Martin’s remarkable progress.

After leading a Red Bull one-two from Sergio Perez in the opening session, Verstappen, who cruised to victory at the season opener in Bahrain earlier this month, was once again untouchable as he delivered a 1:29.603 and 0.2 seconds ahead finished. Alonso.

Perez, who sealed a Red Bull one-two in Bahrain, was a tenth behind Alonso in third on F1’s fastest street circuit, in nighttime conditions matching those of Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race.

Alpine delivered an improved performance as fourth-placed Esteban Ocon and teammate Pierre Gasly were separated by Mercedes’ George Russell.

However, Russell’s teammate Lewis Hamilton endured a much more challenging session as he finished 11th, just behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, who were expected to be Verstappen’s biggest challengers in Saudi Arabia.

Verstappen comes very close to the wall during a flying lap on P2 of the Saudi Arabian GP.

There were suspicions that Ferrari was running their engines significantly below full capacity as the team experimented after both drivers were forced to take new power units following technical problems in Bahrain.

Lance Stroll backed up Alonso’s performance by finishing seventh ahead of Aston Martin, while Nico Hulkenberg put in an impressive performance to finish ninth ahead of the Ferraris and Hamilton.

Lando Norris had finished last in the opening session and gave McLaren a little encouragement to take 12th, but their battle looks set to continue with Oscar Piastri in 19th.

Oscar Piastri finds the entire track blocked during a flying lap on P2 of the Saudi Arabian GP.

Verstappen braves illness to dominate

Verstappen had posted on social media on Thursday that he was “feeling well again” after a stomach flu delayed his flight to Saudi Arabia, and backed up that claim on Friday.

The Dutchman was the last car on track in the warm daytime conditions, but quickly jumped to the top of the timesheet as he found his rhythm on the challenging street circuit.

The only difference under the lights in the evening was that it was Alonso directly behind him rather than Perez.

Verstappen, chasing a third world championship in a row, appeared in a class of his own, with his only fear when he momentarily lost control in the final corner and nearly hit the same wall that ruined a memorable qualifying round in 2021.

“I think we had a positive day, but there are still things we can do better,” said Verstappen.

“In the long run I think we all seemed pretty close. It’s all just managing the tyres, because you can’t really push here, so with a low deg track I think the lap times are very close. so it’s definitely not like Bahrain.”

More to follow…

Formula 1 street racing is back! Watch the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race are live at 5pm. Take Sky Sports

Saudi Arabian GP Practice Two Timesheet

Director Team Time
1) Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:29,603
2) Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +0.208
3) Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.299
4) Esteban Ocon Alps +0.436
5) George Russell Mercedes +0.467
6) Pierre Gasley Alps +0.497
7) Lance walk Aston Martin +0.507
8) Nico Hulkenberg Hare +0.578
9) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.738
10) Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.989
11) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.996
12) Lando Norris McLaren +1,118
13) Yuki Tsunoda Alpha Tauri +1,173
14) Alex Albon Willems +1,207
15) Kevin Magnussen Hare +1,217
16) Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1,234
17) Nick de Vries Alpha Tauri +1,318
18) Logan Sergeant Willems +1,356
19) Oscar Piastri McLaren +1,361
20) Valttery Bottas Alfa Romeo +1,449

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