Charles Leclerc set the pace for Ferrari in first practice ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The Monegasque driver went quickest with a time of 1:30.772, just 0.116 seconds ahead of Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.
Valtteri Bottas completed the top three in the new surroundings of Alfa Romeo.
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Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton complained of the infamous porpoising effect throughout the practice, telling the garage that “there's a lot of bouncing."
The Mercedes team had hoped that the smoother tarmac of the Jeddah street track would soak up some of the bumps. Russell and Hamilton started the session with drastically different rear wings, the younger driver running a much thicker wing with more downforce - and more drag.
With Russell only 0.1 of a second slower each lap, both drivers eventually swapped to the slicker wing. However they rarely troubled the top cars, running a full second behind.
Hamilton’s problems continued throughout the session and were compounded as he clipped the wall. It did not look like the car was damaged but it showed just how close to the edge Hamilton is having to run to chase the pace of the Ferrari and Red Bull.
Both the Red Bulls suffered DNFs in Bahrain. The team said that the issue was due to a vacuum in the fuel pump preventing it from getting enough fuel to the engine.
A statement said: “The correct amount of fuel was in both cars, but a vacuum prevented the pumps from drawing fuel and delivering it to the engine.
“We’ve taken the necessary steps to correct this issue and we expect no problems this weekend.”
Cars this season are running a new fuel that uses 10 per cent green ethanol. With the cars deep into a run, the fuel runs at a slightly different temperature.
Fernando Alonso was the first driver out on track in the first practice of the weekend. His Alpine is already running a replacement engine after suffering problems last weekend in Bahrain.
The teams are allowed three engines for the season, but with the swap, rather than a replacement, Alonso will avoid a penalty.]Kevin Magnussen in the Haas was forced to pit after only seven minutes of the practice with the gearbox stuck in eighth gear and sounding far from healthy.
With just 15 minutes of the practice gone, Magnussen was out of his car as mechanics buzzed around the back end to fix the issue. That would be it for the Denmark driver as his practice time was slashed.
With half an hour gone, the Ferraris joined the action. Fresh from a 1-2 finish in Bahrain, the Leclerc looked fastest from the off, making the most of the quicker tarmac here in Jeddah.
Carlon Sainz soaked up bouts of the bumps as the car was porpoising on the slower straights, however. As teams push to find the perfect ride height, we can expect to see more.
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Early drama came as a 50-metre marker came loose. The polystyrene chunk was destroyed by Lando Norris and cluttered the break zone of corner 14. The red flags, and the dustpan and broom, were out as the track was cleared.
The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is one of the quickest on the calendar, second only to Monza, and the bigger, heavier cars in 2022 already looked more at home on the flowing corners and long straights in Jeddah.
The second race of the season in Saudi Arabia is also one of the most intricate, as drivers pick their way through 27 corners each lap at 200 kilometres per hour.
Nico Hulkenberg takes the seat at Aston Martin for the weekend as Sebastian Vettel continues to recover from Covid-19. It’s the second race in a row that Vettel has missed and the second where his compatriot has stepped in.
Vettel is expected to return to the fray in Australia on April 10.
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