Leclerc fastest again but both Ferraris crash in second Saudi GP practice

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Leclerc fastest again but both Ferraris crash in second Saudi GP practice

Formula 1

Leclerc fastest again but both Ferraris crash in second Saudi GP practice

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Charles Leclerc set the fastest time of second practice of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix… shortly before crashing out of the session.

Leclerc set the hour session’s quickest time despite encountering traffic in the final sector, which prevented him from setting even a personal best time at the split. Regardless, his lap of 1m30.074s went unbeaten through the hour, with Max Verstappen slipping into second and 0.140s off the pace.

But after switching to long-run simulation Leclerc made moderate contact with the barrier at the apex of Turn 4 and broke his left steering arm. He was able to crawl back to pit lane, but his session was over.

It was double trouble for Ferrari, with Carlos Sainz also damaging his car in what appeared to be only a light grazing of the barrier at Turn 13, but he didn’t rejoin the track after returning to his garage with only 12 laps to his name. The Spaniard was third quickest, a quarter-second slower than Leclerc. Sergio Perez was fourth and 0.286s off the pace.

Mercedes enjoyed a much more encouraging evening in Jeddah, with both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell closer to the pace. Both initially reported severe bouncing — Russell’s engineer described it as “hardcore” — but Hamilton got to within 0.439s of Leclerc, with Russell 0.15s further back

Lando Norris enjoyed a similarly positive hour for McLaren by finishing seventh, just ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas.

Yuki Tsunoda completed the top 10 for AlphaTauri but ended the hour stuck on track after his engine expired in time with the clock. It’s the latest in an already alarmingly long list of Honda engine problems this season, with teammate Gasly needing an entire new power unit after his Bahrain race ended in fire and Perez taking on board new motor parts for this weekend.

Fernando Alonso was 11th ahead of Pierre Gasly and Mick Schumacher. Lance Stroll got ahead of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo for 14th, while Aston Martin teammate Nico Hulkenberg completed the most laps of anyone in the hour as he acclimatized to the track on his way to 16th.

Zhou Guanyu was 17th ahead of Williams teammates Nicholas Latifi and Alex Albon.

Kevin Magnussen had his session curtailed yet again, this time with an engine problem for his Haas after a relatively light ride over the curbs entering Turn 14. The Dane, who has never raced at this track, lost all of first practice to a hydraulic issue.

The start of second practice had been delayed by 15 minutes to accommodate a meeting in response to an explosion and fire at a nearby oil refinery. The Aramco facility was attacked by rockets launched by Yemen’s Houthi movement. Black smoke was seen rising from the facility, around six miles east of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, during first practice earlier in the afternoon.

Formula 1 sought more information from authorities between sessions, and Stefano Domenicali summoned team to a briefing shortly before the start of second practice. FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem was also in attendance.

A further meeting has been scheduled for 10 p.m. local time, around 45 minute after the conclusion of practice.

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