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F1 practice LIVE: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix lap time results as Charles Leclerc edges Max Verstappen

Follow all the latest from Jeddah as Charles Leclerc topped Friday practice ahead of Max Verstappen while Mercedes struggled

Michael Jones
Friday 25 March 2022 19:04
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F1 races 2022: Take a virtual lap ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix

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:

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What happened in Bahrain?

Formula One is back this weekend after a thrilling opening grand prix in Bahrain. The teams head to Saudi Arabia for the second race of the 2022 season with practice at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit getting underway this afternoon.

Ferrari are back on top of the standings and are the early team to beat after Charles Leclerc won the Italians their first race since 2019 and Carlos Sainz completed a sensational one-two last weekend.

Red Bull are looking to respond after suffering a “brutal” double DNF as both defending champion Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez failed to finish after losing power with less than five laps of the race to go.

That allowed Lewis Hamilton to claim a surprise podium place despite Mercedes’ early struggles with his teammate George Russell following behind in P4.

Now F1 returns for the second Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after last season’s instant classic in Jeddah, as Hamilton edged Verstappen in a frantic race that saw numerous incidents in what is the fastest street circuit on the calendar.

Michael Jones25 March 2022 09:51
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Aston Martin confirm Hulkenberg will sub for Vettel at Jeddah

Reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg will race for Aston Martin in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix for the second race in succession with Sebastian Vettel absent due to Covid-19.

Vettel missed the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, after testing positive for Covid on the eve of the grand prix and he is yet to record a negative test.

Hulkenberg, who failed to secure a permanent spot on the grid after Renault dropped him at the end of the 2019 season, finished P17 in Bahrain and will hope to move up the leaderboard in Jeddah this week.

Meanwhile, Aston Martin believe the four-time World Champion will be back for the Australian Grand Prix in mid-April.

Michael Jones25 March 2022 09:42
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Martin Brundle believes Lewis Hamilton committed to F1 despite ‘bumpy ride’ with new Mercedes

Martin Brundle believes Lewis Hamilton is fully committed to Formula One despite the potential for a difficult season at Mercedes.

The 37-year-old narrowly missed out on a record eighth world championship last season in a dramatic and controversial final race at Abu Dhabi, where Red Bull rival Max Verstappen snatched his maiden crown.

The early signs this season suggests Hamilton may struggle to be so competitive this time around driving a Mercedes car that is yet to hit the ground running after a new set of regulations which has shaken up the field.

Ferrari appear to be the quickest so far, evinced by their one-two finish in Bahrain, and although Hamilton finished third in reality the Mercedes were well off the pace of the Red Bulls, which suffered from reliability issues and failed to finish.

Sky Sports commentator Brundle believes Hamilton may struggle to enjoy the sport if he is not fighting for race wins, but believes the Briton is still highly motivated and as quick as ever.

Martin Brundle believes Lewis Hamilton committed to F1 despite ‘bumpy ride’ ahead

Ferrari appear to be the quickest so far, evinced by their one-two finish in Bahrain, and it could be a long season for Mercedes

Michael Jones25 March 2022 09:34
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What time is Saudi Arabia Grand Prix practice and how can I watch it?

Formula One is back in Saudi Arabia after last season’s dramatic duel between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the high-speed Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

In what was the penultimate race of the thrilling 2021 campaign, Hamilton moved level on points with Verstappen but only after he accused his title rival of “brake-testing” as they clashed on the track.

It also came after Verstappen crashed in qualifying as he closed in on pole position, so there are set to be plenty more twists and turns as Formula One returns to the fastest street circuit on the calendar.

Ferrari are the team to beat after last week’s sensational one-two at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix and Mercedes will be aiming to see an improvement in their performance following their early struggles.

We should get some early clues as the opening practice sessions take place in Jeddah today ahead of this weekend’s Grand Prix. Here’s everything you need to know:

What time is Saudi Arabia Grand Prix practice and how can I watch it?

Everything you need to know ahead of today’s practice sessions

Michael Jones25 March 2022 09:25
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Sebastian Vettel ruled out of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with Covid

Sebastian Vettel has been ruled out of Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix due to Covid, it has been confirmed.

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.

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

Jack Rathborn25 March 2022 09:18
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Max Verstappen details difficulty in Bahrain after Red Bull mistake

Max Verstappen has explained the difficulty he experienced in Bahrain after his second pit stop saw his Red Bull mechanics drop the RB18 car to the ground too quickly, causing a track rod to bend.

“The steering issue was not easy to drive [around] because of not having a feeling of what the car was doing because it was not natural," explained Verstappen.

"You can lose power steering and it is just heavy but this was almost stuck in places so it was really difficult to drive.

“Of course, the big problem was what happened afterwards where it looked like there was no fuel coming to the engine and basically everything just turned off so I rolled back into the pit lane."

Jack Rathborn25 March 2022 09:11
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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.

Toto Wolff reveals how Mercedes will close gap ‘centimetre by centimetre’ on rivals

Mercedes took third and fourth at the Bahrain Grand Prix but lack the straight-line speed of other cars

Jack Rathborn25 March 2022 09:02
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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.”

George Russell warns Mercedes issues could last all season

Russell finished fourth, one place behind new teammate Lewis Hamilton, at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Jack Rathborn25 March 2022 08:53
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F1 season could expand to 30 races with Las Vegas and Africa options

Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali has confirmed that the sports’ calendar could be expanded to as many 30 races a season.

F1 will hold a record 23 Grands Prix in 2022, but with surging popularity, particularly in previously untapped, large markets, Domenicali believes there is appetite for expansion.

Las Vegas has been widely tipped as a potential future host city and the F1 CEO has confirmed that a visit to Nevada could well be on the cards.

With significant interest in other territories, including on the African continent and in China, Domenicali believes that the sport may need to extend itself beyond the 24 races a season permitted by the Concorde Agreement.

“I think there is potential to go to 24,” Domenicali told Sky Sports. “I would say there is potential to go to 30! In terms of the interest we see all around the world. “It is up to us to try to find the right balance considering what are the venues which would like to be in F1, what are the historical values we need to see on the calendar.

“Not only Las Vegas, there are other cities that are interested in Formula 1. On top of America, on top of China, I think there is a potential also to be in Africa soon. There is a lot of interest there. For sure that’s another area that so far is missing in the geography of our calendar.”

F1 season could expand to 30 races with Las Vegas and Africa options

Stefano Domenicali believes that the Formula 1 season could be busier in the future

Jack Rathborn25 March 2022 08:45
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F1 boss Stefano Domenicali reveals ‘four or five’ requests tabled for new teams

Stefano Domenicali has revealed that Formula 1 has “more than four or five requests” from new teams hoping to enter the sport but played down the prospect in the immediate future.

Michael Andretti, the American former racing driver and team owner, has made public his interest in bringing a new team to F1, however, Domenicali insisted the current level of competition on the grid is enticing enough and questioned whether there was space for more than 10 teams.

“There’s not only Michael Andretti,” Domenicali told Sky Sports. “He is maybe the most vocal one, but we have more than four or five requests to consider an extra team to be a part of Formula 1.

“I have to be very honest, today F1 with 10 teams, with the competition on the track, is very, very solid. There are complexities that need to be considered if other teams can be added. Therefore I don’t think it’s the most important element to grow F1, to be honest.”

F1 boss Stefano Domenicali reveals ‘four or five’ requests tabled for new teams

Former racing driver Michael Andretti has made public his interest in bringing a new team to the grid

Jack Rathborn25 March 2022 08:34

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