Formula One bosses have said Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will go ahead despite an attack on a nearby fuel depot during practice. Black smoke billowed across the Jeddah circuit as seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and his fellow drivers took part in the first action of the weekend.
World champion Max Verstappen reported to his Red Bull team over the radio that he could detect the smoke. “I smell a bit of a burning feeling,” he said. “I am not sure if it is my car, or another car.”
The al-Masirah satellite news channel run by Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed they had attacked an Aramco facility in Jeddah. The same fuel depot, 12 miles to the east of the track, was attacked on Sunday. Shortly after the summit, race organisers said the grand prix - only the second to be staged in Saudi Arabia - will go ahead as scheduled.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was quickest across Friday’s practice ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, while Mercedes appeared to struggle for pace throughout the day.
Follow all the F1 news and updates from practice ahead of the Saudi GP below:
No media sessions tonight
It is being reported that the Formula 1 drivers won’t face the media this evening after an explosion in Jeddah earlier today threatened to put an early end to the Grand Prix.
The FIA have decided to go ahead with the weekend but haven’t made the drivers available for comment.
Max Verstappen aims to strike back as Lewis Hamilton struggles to match Saudi Arabian Grand Prix changes
Mercedes aren’t expecting quick fixes as Formula One returns to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, leaving the most significant alterations at the fastest street circuit on the racing calendar to the track itself and setting up a potential battle of nerves between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit has undergone some significant changes from last season’s inaugural race after listening to driver feedback. The track attracted plenty of attention, with its blind corners and narrow walls leaving little margin for error, but it proved to be a hit with those in the cockpit. It was a challenge, a circuit that needed to be tamed.
Last season, Verstappen was set for one of the most impressive qualifying laps of the season after finding what was close to the perfect racing line, only to overcook it at the final corner and crash into the wall.
Ferrari and Red Bull continued to set the pace in Saudi Arabia as Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes still had work to do
Leclerc fastest, Verstappen second in FP2
Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen look set to go wheel-to-wheel again in Jeddah after posting the two fastest times in both practice sessions on Friday.
Here’s the full result of FP2:
Leclerc fastest in FP2!
No changes between the top four with Mercedes making their move to finish P5 and P6. Full results to come.
An early end to the session for Ferrari
After both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz hit the walls Ferrari have decided to call an early end to their practice session. Leclerc still has the fastest lap though.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are place P5 and P6 now. They’ve upped the pace on the soft tyres with Hamilton on (+0.439) away from Charles Leclerc’s fastest lap.
Update on explosion in Jeddah
F1 practice session 2
Leclerc in trouble
Charles Leclerc hits the wall and radios back to the Ferrari team to tell them his car is broken. He’s crept back to the pits and it looks as though that might be the end of his practice session.
It’s so close between the four cars:
- Charles Leclerc 1:30.074
- Max Verstappen +0.140
- Carlos Sainz +0.246
- Sergio Perez +0.286
Lewis Hamilton (+0.439) is now up to fifth after a solid lap on the soft tyres but there are more problems for Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.
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