Alonso & Verstappen quickest in Saudi Arabian Grand Prix practice sessions

Alonso & Verstappen quickest in Saudi Arabian Grand Prix practice sessions



Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso took over at the top of the timesheets, beating Mercedes’ George Russell and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen by more than two tenths of a second in the second practice session ahead of Saturday’s 2024 FIA Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. 


After losing out to Verstappen in the first hour of practice, Alonso powered to the top in Thursday evening’s performance runs to post a best lap of 1:28.827 that left him 0.230 clear of Russell, with defending champion Verstappen a further tenth back in third. 


The start of the session was delayed by 10 minutes to allow officials to check drain covers in pit lane but once the session got underway there were no further issues. 


Oscar Piastri was first out on track and the McLaren driver set the first benchmark at 1:32.956. He was deposed by Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu but then the Red Bull drivers emerged and both quickly rose to the top of the order. 


Running Medium tyres, Verstappen set the pace at 1:30.447s before Sergio Pérez bumped his team-mate out of P1 by 0.020s, also on the C3 tyres. Alonso was also out on Mediums and the Spainard dipped below 90 seconds to take top spot with a lap of 1:29.846.


Verstappen's second flying lap on the yellow-banded moved him to 0.051s behind Alonso, but the Aston Martin then went quicker again, stopping the clock at 1:29.560 to resume in P1 shortly before the quarter hour mark. Verstappen was also lapping again, however, and he jumped back to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:29.543. 


Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas then sparked a switch to qualifying simulations and when Alonso bolted on a set of red-banded tyres at the 25-minute mark he once again went top on 1:28.827.


Verstappen couldn’t match that, ending up a sizeable 0.550 behind Alonso and that gap was filled by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc 0.353 off the Aston Martin and Pérez who found himself 0.473s off P1.


The parade of improved times was interrupted by a nervous moment for Logan Sargeant, who was forced to swerve at high-speed to avoid Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton who was in the middle of the track in Turn 10. Hamilton was summoned to Stewards’ room after the session to explain the mishap.  


Soon after, Verstappen went again on his set of softs and he improved 0.331s behind Alonso. Mercedes pair Russell and Hamilton then at last emerged on Softs. 

Russell slotted into fourth with his first lap, with Hamilton in seventh, before the younger Merc

edes driver went again and his second run put him ahead of Verstappen and 0.23s off Alonso with just over 20 minutes remaining.


That signalled the end of performance running as the field then switched to longer runs on more durable rubber. 


Behind Verstappen, Leclerc sealed fourth with his best lap of 1:29.180, over as tenth clear of Pérez. Lance Stroll was sixth in the other Aston Martin, ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Hamilton. Pierre Gasly was a useful ninth for struggling Alpine and the top ten order was rounded out by who finished 0.767 off Alonso. 


2024 FIA Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 
1 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:28.827  28
2 George Russell Mercedes 1:29.057 0.230 24
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:29.158 0.331 27
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:29.180 0.353 25
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 1:29.300 0.473 26
6 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:29.336 0.509 27
7 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:29.455 0.628 26
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29.504 0.677 22
9 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:29.528 0.701 28
10 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:29.594 0.767 27
11 Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:29.666 0.839 28
12 Lando Norris McLaren 1:29.758 0.931 23
13 Zhou Guanyu Sauber 1:29.777 0.950 27
14 Alexander Albon Williams 1:29.789 0.962 28
15 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:29.901 1.074 27
16 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:29.934 1.107 27
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:29.985 1.158 24
18 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:30.077 1.250 26
19 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:30.088 1.261 29
20 Valtteri Bottas Sauber 1:30.153 1.326 26



Defending world champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull set the pace in the opening practice session for the 2024 FIA Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, beating Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso by just under two tenths of a second, with Sergio Pérez third in the other Red Bull car. 


In the opening part of the session it was George Russell that led the way as drivers ran through tyre evaluation programmes on the high-speed Jeddah Corniche circuit. The Mercedes driver chipped away at his times as he worked his way towards a comfort zone, eventually working his way down to a time of 1:30.554 on Medium tyres. 


McLaren’s Lando Norris this bolted on a set of Soft tyres and the Briton went marginally ahead of the Mercedes with a time of 1:30.424s. 


Verstappen, who had run Hard tyres earlier in the session, then also moved to C4s and he went well clear of Norris with a lap of 1:30.014.

Russell was the next to switch to the red-walled rubber and he put in a strong lap to reclaim top spot, though only by the very slim margin of 0.003s. Verstappen wasn’t finished, however, and his next attempt on Softs saw him stop the clock at 1:29.659, a lap that vaulted him ahead of Russell and which kept him at the top of the timesheet until the end of the session. 


Russell did edge closer, posting a 1:29.939 on his next lap but he was nudged back by Perez's 1:29.868 which briefly put the Mexican, who triumphed at this track last year, into second place behind his team-mate. However, Alonso then pumped in a lap of 1:29.845 to take the runner-up position in the FP1 order.


Behind Pérez, Russell held on to fourth place ahead of the Ferrari pairing of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Norris slid to seventh at the flag, just 0.005s clear of Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes. 


Ninth place went to Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, who finished over three tenths of a second off Hamilton. The Canadian made it to P9 after undergoing repairs for front left damage sustained when he clipped the wall in the inside of Turn 21 early in the session. 


Williams’ Alex Albon completed the top 10, a good result for the Thai driver who prioritised Medium tyres in the session. 

2024 FIA Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:29.659  24
2 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:29.845 0.186 24
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 1:29.868 0.209 23
4 George Russell Mercedes 1:29.939 0.280 23
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:30.030 0.371 24
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:30.164 0.505 24
7 Lando Norris McLaren 1:30.231 0.572 26
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.236 0.577 21
9 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:30.580 0.921 1
10 Alexander Albon Williams 1:30.747 1.088 26
11 Valtteri Bottas Sauber 1:30.783 1.124 26
12 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:30.917 1.258 25
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:30.945 1.286 27
14 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:30.966 1.307 27
15 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:30.977 1.318 22
16 Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:31.036 1.377 25
17 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:31.046 1.387 25
18 Zhou Guanyu Sauber 1:31.131 1.472 24
19 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:31.411 1.752 19
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:31.577 1.918 18


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