Saudi Arabian GP: Lewis Hamilton tops Practice Two, Max Verstappen fourth, Charles Leclerc crashes
Lewis Hamilton completes Friday practice double, topping Mercedes one-two in second practice; Hamilton fastest despite posting best time on medium tyre, Verstappen fourth as traffic disrupts qualifying simulations; Watch qualifying live on Sky Sports F1 at 5pm on Saturday
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 03/12/21 11:32pm
Lewis Hamilton continued his strong early pace at the Saudi Arabian GP with another fastest time in Practice Two, as his championship rival Max Verstappen finished only fourth in a hectic session around Jeddah's new street circuit that was ended with a heavy crash for Charles Leclerc.
Leclerc lost control of his Ferrari through the high-speed Turns 22 and 23 and slammed into the barriers at around 150mph to bring out red flags in the closing stages. His Ferrari suffered big damage, though thankfully Leclerc was unhurt.
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That was the most dramatic moment of a session Hamilton topped, securing a Friday practice double on the crucial penultimate weekend of his title battle against Verstappen despite a disrupted P2.
Hamilton, nor Valtteri Bottas, who was just 0.061s slower, managed to post a time on the soft tyre during the qualifying simulations, amid plenty of traffic on the narrow yet ferociously fast Corniche circuit. But the Mercedes drivers still outpaced the chasing pack, which was surprisingly not led by Verstappen.
Pierre Gasly was the fastest of the soft-tyre runners in third for AlphaTauri, within a tenth of Hamilton.
Verstappen finished fourth and 0.195s off Hamilton, the man he leads by eight points in the title race. Verstappen set his fastest lap on the quickest tyre, although by the time he had done so - with traffic also affecting him - his tyres were six laps old.
Sergio Perez was only ninth in the other Red Bull.
Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, who shone in Qatar, once again found themselves in the top-10, ahead of Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari. AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda also shone in seventh, despite posting his best time on the hard tyre.
Leclerc, whose car Ferrari will likely be attempting to repair long into Friday night, was 10th, just ahead of the McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris.
The maiden qualifying session at F1's second-longest, and second-fastest, track is live on Sky Sports F1 at 5pm on Saturday.
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What was said after Friday practice
Lewis Hamilton: "The track is rapid. Unbelievably quick, it really is incredibly fast. A lot of grip as well. If you can get your rhythm, it's beautiful to drive.
"I'm generally happy. We've made some changes between sessions, I'm just unsure which one I want to stay with. It's definitely not in a bad place, but on a single lap they're [Red Bull] quite quick so we've got a bit of work to do."
Christian Horner, Red Bull boss: You can see it's pretty tight. It's a challenging circuit, high speed with walls, and it's going to be who gets the most out of the tyres, the car, gets a clean lap.
"This is Max's type of circuit. He's certainly enjoying it."
Damon Hill: "Both Mercedes drivers have built up slowly, got comfortable without taking too many risks. You saw what happened with Charles when you push it too much.
"Max started out flat-out and now it seems like he's on the back foot."
The full results from Practice Two
Saudi Arabian GP Practice Two Timesheet
|1) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:29.018|
|2) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+0.061|
|3) Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+0.081|
|4) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+0.195|
|5) Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+0.423|
|6) Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+0.537|
|7) Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+0.571|
|8) Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+0.579|
|9) Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+0.750|
|10) Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+0.754|
|11) Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+0.950|
|12) Lando Norris||McLaren||+0.986|
|13) Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+1.092|
|14) Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+1.258|
|15) Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+1.424|
|16) Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+1.484|
|17) George Russell||Williams||+1.488|
|18) Mick Schumacher||Haas||+1.634|
|19) Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+2.021|
|20) Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+2.611|
More to follow...