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:
Constructor championship standings
1) Ferrari - 44 points
2) Mercedes - 27
3) Haas - 10
4) Alpha Romeo - 9
5) Alpine - 8
6) AlphaTauri - 4
7) Aston Martin - 0
8) Williams - 0
9) McLaren - 0
10) Red Bull - 0
Driver standings after Bahrain GP
There’s just under an hour and a half until the first practice session for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix gets started so here’s a look at how things stand after the opening race of the season in Bahrain:
1) Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) - 26 points
2) Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) - 18
3) Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 15
4) George Russell (Mercedes) - 12
5) Kevin Magnussen (Haas) - 10
6) Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) - 8
7) Esteban Ocon (Alpine) - 6
8) Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) - 4
9) Fernando Alonso (Alpine) - 2
10) Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) - 1
Sebastian Vettel ruled out of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with Covid
The four-time world champion missed the season opener in Bahrain with the virus, and has failed to recover in time for this weekend’s race.
Vettel will again be replaced by Aston Martin’s reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg.
The British team expect 34-year-old Vettel to be fit for the third round of the new Formula One campaign in Australia on April 10.
The four-time world champion missed the season opener in Bahrain with the virus, and has failed to recover in time for this weekend’s race
Toto Wolff explains Mercedes’ ‘centimetre by centimetre’ plan to close gaps in ‘every area’ on F1 rivals
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed how the Silver Arrows plan to claw back their deficit "centimetre by centimetre" on early F1 pacesetters Red Bull and Ferrari, despite Lewis Hamilton and George Russell delivering P3 and P4 in Bahrain.
“The long game is 10 years and that is why when I even look at the season, with stable regulations until 2026, it is how well you learn and that is why, for me, I would qualify the race as a test," Wolff said.
“There is more understanding of where the gaps lie, it is in pretty much every area, and now we just need to regain land centimetre by centimetre.”
While Wolff did have sympathy for his rivals Red Bull after Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez’s late retirements from the race, costing them 30 points.
"I don’t wish anybody that, and it was certainly a brutal race for them,” Wolff concluded.
Mercedes took third and fourth at the Bahrain Grand Prix but lack the straight-line speed of other cars
Hamilton still breaking records
Another record for seven-time Forumla 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton as he became the driver with the longest consecutive yearly run of podium finishes, beating Michael Schumacher’s previous record of 15 years.
Red Bull reveal cause of problem forcing cars to retire in Bahrain
Red Bull suffered a ‘brutal’ double DNF in the opening grand prix in Bahrain last weekend after looking set to start the 2022 season with a P2 and a P4 finish.
Both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez suffered retirements with just a handful of laps to go and the team has revealed the cause of those problems ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
A spokesperson fromRed Bull said: “Both cars suffered from a lack of fuel pressure last weekend. The correct amount of fuel was in both cars, but a vacuum prevented the pumps from drawing fuel and delivering it to the engine.
“We’ve taken the necessary steps to correct this issue and we expect no problems this weekend.”
Carlos Sainz reveals Ferrari team orders plan for Formula 1 championship fight
Carlos Sainz has been revealed Ferrari’s plan for possible team orders if one of the team’s drivers is competing for the Formula 1 world championship later in the season.
The Spaniard and team-mate Charles Leclerc are driving what seems to be the fastest car on the grid at this early stage of the campaign, and the Monegasque took victory with Sainz in second at the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend.
Former McLaren driver Sainz says either team-mate will be happy to help the other if one is competing for the title, but that the ideal is for both to be battling one another for glory.
“The team will allow us to compete and race each other,” Scuderiafans quotes Sainz as having told Spanish radio show The Great Match of COPE.
The Spaniard helped bring home a 1-2 for Ferrari at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen explains difficulty driving after Red Bull’s self-inflicted problem in Bahrain
Max Verstappen has revealed the extent of Red Bull’s self-inflicted problems during the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Dutchman’s defence of his maiden F1 world title got off to a disastrous start, with both Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez failing to finish at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The 24-year-old had appeared set to take second behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, but an issue with his car’s fuelling system meant he could not continue and took no points after a retirement.
Also, after his second pit-stop, the Red Bull mechanics dropped Verstappen’s car too quickly, bending a track rod connecting to one of his wheels and making the car “really difficult to drive”.
Verstappen had to contend with a significant issue before being forced out of the Bahrain Grand Prix
Max Verstappen doubles down on opposition to Drive to Survive
Verstappen has previously explained he doesn’t want to be involved as the drama created by Netflix isn’t an accurate depiction. That meant his title-winning season went without a one-on-one interview with Verstappen on the show.
He has now reiterated his opinion and said it isn’t going to change. ‘’You as a person, you are trying to build a brand, just by being myself,” he told the Associated Press.
“But then a series like that can just put you down completely different just because they like it like that and I think that is very wrong and I prefer not to be a part of it.
‘’Not all, but quite a lot of things are wrong. People get the wrong idea about a certain person of how they actually are, they don’t know because they are new to the sport and they just watch the series. My opinion is not going to change.’’
Verstappen has said previously he does not want to feature in the show
George Russell warns Mercedes issues could last all 2022 season
George Russell has warned that Mercedes’ issues with their new car could last the entire F1 season.
The German team were off the pace for much of preseason testing and their problems continued at the Bahrain Grand Prix despite a solid race finish.
Russell, making his Mercedes debut proper after joining the team from Williams, secured fourth place, one spot back from new teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Yet the new W13 car again appeared to lack the straight-line speed of the team’s rivals Red Bull and Ferrari, and struggled with ‘porpoising’.
Asked when he felt the issues might be resolved, Russell said: “We hope it will be as soon as possible. But there is no reason why it may not continue the whole year.”
Russell finished fourth, one place behind new teammate Lewis Hamilton, at the Bahrain Grand Prix
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