Leclerc stays ahead in third Saudi Arabian GP practice

Image courtesy of Ferrari

Leclerc stays ahead in third Saudi Arabian GP practice

Formula 1

Leclerc stays ahead in third Saudi Arabian GP practice

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Charles Leclerc completed a sweep of practice sessions at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, once again leading Max Verstappen.

The Monegasque improved his time at the last moment with blistering pace through the first sector before losing time to the Dutchman over the balance of the lap to edge the Red Bull Racing car by just 0.033s.

But Verstappen will feel comfortable knowing there was more pace in his car but for a mistake on his last flying lap that sent him clattering over the curbs at Turn 22.

He had been well up on his best time up to that point but abandoned the lap and chose to return to his garage rather than embark on another attempt despite drivers finding more time on their second and sometimes even third laps.

Sergio Perez slotted into third at just 0.098s slower than Leclerc. Carlos Sainz was fourth and 0.274s down, the second Ferrari driver seemingly perpetually afflicted by car bouncing problems.

Valtteri Bottas continued his strong Saudi Arabian form to put himself fifth and only 0.295 behind Leclerc’s benchmark and keep ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.

Pierre Gasly ended the session seventh but in his garage with a drivetrain problem after 11 laps. The Frenchman pulled away from his put box between runs but suddenly lost drive, forcing him to stop his car past pit exit and push it back into the lane.

Teammate Yuki Tsunoda suffered a loss of drive on track yesterday during second practice; today he had a new internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H, MGU-K and exhaust system. Perez also has new engine components this weekend, calling into question reliability of the Honda-built engine early in the season.

Kevin Magnussen completed the first practice session of his career in Jeddah, having lost all of first practice and much of the second session to car problems. The Dane completed 18 laps to lap just over half a second off the pace.

Fernando Alonso was ninth for Alpine ahead of Yuki Tsunoda completing the top 10.

Lewis Hamilton slipped to 11th through the session, the Briton 0.972s off the pace. Hamilton was the fastest Mercedes-powered driver in the session by a long way, and all of the bottom seven cars were powered by Mercedes motors.

Mick Schumacher was 12th for Haas ahead of Zhou Guanyu and George Russell in the sister Mercedes.

Lance Stroll led the way for Aston Martin in 15th ahead of Daniel Ricciardo. Alex Albon was 17th for Williams ahead of stand-in Nico Hulkenberg, while Lando Norris and Nicholas Latifi propped up the time sheet in 19th and 20th.

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