Jeddah, FP1: Hamilton quickest in first practice for Saudi Arabian GP

Just 0.056s ahead of Verstappen

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By Olivier Ferret

3 December 2021 - 15:34
Jeddah, FP1: Hamilton quickest in (...)

Lewis Hamilton beat title rival Max Verstappen in the first free practice session for this weekend’s inaugural FIA Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, running just six hundredths of a second quicker than the Dutch driver. Valtteri Bottas finished third, a little over two tenths of a second adrift of Mercedes teram-mate Hamilton.

Championship-leading Red Bull driver Verstappen led the way early in the afternoon session on hard tyres, steadily working his way down to a time of 1:30.014 on the white-banded Pirelli compound.

Hamilton took longer to find a rhythm around the new 6.174 Jeddah Corniche Circuit and he used soft compound tyres to get to six tenths of a second off Verstappen’s best lap during the opening runs with Bottas also using soft tyres to take third.

The entire field moved to the red-banded softs for the second half of the hour-long session and as the tracked ‘rubbered in’ the times began to drop significantly. Both Hamilton and Bottas moving ahead of Verstappen with the Finn edging five thousandths of a second clear of the Red Bull driver with his second run on softs, and Hamilton then moving ahead of his team-mate by two tenths of a second.

The seven-time champion’s effort established the benchmark at 1:29.786 with 15 minutes left on the clock. Verstappen continued to pound out laps on the snaking, high-speed layout and in the dying moments moved ahead of Bottas and claimed P2 with a lap 1:29.842, just 0.056s off Hamilton.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly ended the session in fourth place, less than half a second off Hamilton, while Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi took fifth place, again with a late improvement on soft tyres.

Sixth and seventh place in the session went to Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo took eighth place on the timesheet for McLaren. Fernando Alonso was ninth for Alpine with his best time being set on hard tyres during the second half of the session and the top 10 order was completed by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel who set a time of 1:30.886, a little over a hundredth of a second in front of the second Red Bull of Sergio Pérez.

Pos.DriverCarTimeLaps
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12 1:29.786 21
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:29.842 23
03 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W12 1:30.009 24
04 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:30.263 28
05 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:30.318 27
06 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF21 1:30.564 26
07 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF21 1:30.600 26
08 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:30.608 25
09 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A521 1:30.842 27
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:30.886 25
11 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:30.960 27
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A521 1:31.023 29
13 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:31.029 23
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:31.044 25
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:31.099 26
16 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:31.296 26
17 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:31.343 28
18 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:31.525 24
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:31.821 27
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:33.464 23

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