Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021

Hamilton fastest again as Leclerc shunt ends second practice early

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix second practice

Posted on

| Written by

Lewis Hamilton was quickest again in second practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after a crash for Charles Leclerc ended the session early.

A heavy shunt for the Ferrari driver at turn 22 brought out the red flags, ending running with a handful of minutes remaining. Leclerc climbed out of his car and into the medical vehicle under his own power. Ferrari later confirmed he was given the all-clear by doctors.

Valtteri Bottas was second fastest in the second Mercedes, with Pierre Gasly third fastest for AlphaTauri.

The second practice session was the first opportunity for drivers to test out the new Jeddah Corniche Circuit under the lights – the same night time conditions that Sunday’s race will take place in.

After an hour of afternoon running under the belts already, drivers were keen to push harder as they looked to build up their speed over the course of the weekend. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez both went off the circuit after missing apexes through the fast first sector, with Charles Leclerc also missing the first corner under heavy braking and taking to the escape road.

Mid way through the session, the Mercedes of Hamilton and Bottas sat atop the times, both flirting with breaking the 1’29 barrier having set their best times on the medium tyres. Hamilton going quickest despite narrowly avoiding Antonio Giovinazzi’s slow-moving Alfa Romeo on the exit of turn 11.

George Russell reported a brake-by-wire failure on his Williams 20 minutes into the session, describing how his brake pedal was “going long” in the cockpit. However, he later reported that his brakes had “come back” to him and was able to continue his run uninterrupted.

Nikita Mazepin spun exiting turn two right in front of Hamilton’s Mercedes, who had a tight squeeze to avoid the Haas and the outside wall. Both drivers were able to resume unscathed.

For the second session of the day, all 20 drivers appeared to have successfully avoided the barriers that claustrophobically line the 27 corners on the circuit. Only Mick Schumacher had lightly brushed the wall on the exit of the final corner, heading onto the pit straight.

That was until Leclerc lost control of his Ferrari entering the fast left hander of turn 22, spinning and crashing backwards into the barriers, wrecking his car. The red flags were immediately thrown, with the session not being restarted.

Leclerc was able to climb out of his car before being taken to the medical centre for checks. With the session not restarted, it meant that Hamilton would finish Friday fastest ahead of team mate Bottas and Pierre Gasly third.

Championship leader Verstappen ended the session fourth fastest, just under two tenths of a second slower than his title rival’s ultimate pace.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix second practice result

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’29.01822
277Valtteri BottasMercedes1’29.0790.06123
310Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’29.0990.08122
433Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’29.2130.19520
514Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’29.4410.42321
631Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’29.5550.53722
755Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’29.5890.57124
822Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’29.5970.57920
911Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’29.7680.75022
1016Charles LeclercFerrari1’29.7720.75423
113Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’29.9680.95022
124Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’30.0040.98619
1399Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’30.1101.09223
147Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’30.2761.25824
1518Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’30.4421.42422
165Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’30.5021.48422
1763George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’30.5061.48824
1847Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’30.6521.63420
196Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’31.0392.02123
209Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’31.6292.61120

Second practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’29.018

+0.061 Valtteri Bottas – 1’29.079

+0.081 Pierre Gasly – 1’29.099

+0.195 Max Verstappen – 1’29.213

+0.423 Fernando Alonso – 1’29.441

+0.537 Esteban Ocon – 1’29.555

+0.571 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’29.589

+0.579 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’29.597

+0.750 Sergio Perez – 1’29.768

+0.754 Charles Leclerc – 1’29.772

+0.950 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’29.968

+0.986 Lando Norris – 1’30.004

+1.092 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’30.110

+1.258 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’30.276

+1.424 Lance Stroll – 1’30.442

+1.484 Sebastian Vettel – 1’30.502

+1.488 George Russell – 1’30.506

+1.634 Mick Schumacher – 1’30.652

+2.021 Nicholas Latifi – 1’31.039

+2.611 Nikita Mazepin – 1’31.629

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

40 comments on “Hamilton fastest again as Leclerc shunt ends second practice early”

  1. Mercedes 1-2 in the race please!

    Lewis + Mercedes 2021 F1 Champions!

    1. Far, far too early to say that. Hamilton or Max could easily dominate this one and still be caught out by a safety car or red flag on Sunday. It actually looks incredibly close at the top. Mercedes look to have a slight edge, but Max wasn’t on a low fuel, new tyre run either. He did around five or six laps before setting his fastest his fastest time. Let’s wait and see but there’s a whole lot of racing before this Championship is done.

      1. Incredibly close between the the Merc team mates again yes. The others not so much..

  2. The Saudi circuit isn’t bad and i have to say i liked what i saw, but the safety concerns around the circuit runoffs are quite significant. Even before Leclerc’s crash, the wall placing at turn 22 is quite dangerous. And let’s not forget that in the ill fated F2 race at Spa 2019, the main issue was created from the fact that the car sustained a second significant hit at the cockpit area…

    Bar turn 22, the pit exit is quite tricky and can lead to situations that have only be seen in the recent Puebla E-Prix(during attack mode’s activation). The traffic situation from turn 22-27 is quite scary as well, but i want to hope that drivers, engineers and spotters will be able to handle this with safety

  3. Leclerc caused the first (& hopefully only) red-flag stoppage.

    1. I expect two red flags.
      One haas and one ferrari.
      It’s a ugly track to see. Typical Saudi. Enormous road prison.

  4. This track’s hott. Modern day Suzuka.

    1. I honestly hate it. No character at all on or around the track. Every corner looks the same and it’s way too thin to overtake. Let’s wait til race day, but from what I’ve seen so far it looks like we’re in for a snooze on Sunday.

      1. The fact it’s run at night doesn’t do it any favours I think. Other night events at least have some open space around it or in the case of Singapore a colourful and brightly lit high-rise city centre. This track has little of either which makes it appear like one long concrete canal capped by darkness. Watching it I got sort of reminded of playing a racing game on a system that’s so old you have to disable all trackside objects to get acceptable frame rates – it’s possible to drive that way but not much fun to look at.

      2. @Ben the track itself is bristling with character. just look at all the comments: nerve wracking/thrilling/risky etc… whether people like it or not is a different matter, but it’s without a doubt there

        Around the track it seems that there still isn’t a strong F1 fanbase yet

  5. this track is like they had the whole world to build something massive but decided to do it using only Chile’s territory.

    Feels like a crash is always about to happen.

    1. Yes watching this creates a deep sense of dread and impending doom.

  6. The track looks lethal….one slip and someone is going up into the fencing big time. And was it just me or were there only men and boys in the grandstands?

    1. @machinesteve one positive I can find in Sharia law is that they tried to ban Ted Kravitz’s knee shorts.

      The fact he found a loophole in saying that they’re ‘team uniform’ shows that even after 25 years he really is committed to them, he’s not giving up, they’ll catch on one day.

      1. lol! Amazing comment!

  7. Amazing that 12 drivers are all within 1 second around such a long track. Hope it is that close in the race.

  8. why they made such a narrow tunnel vision like track with blind corners defies logic and yet they call it high speed.
    seems tome getting pole is key but what will stop a well planned crashgate like situation on par with singapore.. when ALONZO WON after an engineered crash.

  9. Not bad for max, considering merc are using brazil engine

    1. and what about gasly? red bull should hire him asap!

    2. No one uses the race engine on Fridays. And no one knows how old the spares being used on Fridays are.

      Also I would consider that any margin is tough to overcome because there are not many slow to mid corners. It’s all about commitment though those blazing fast 20-22 corner and that one insane 5th gear chicane on the back side.

    3. Merc were not using the Brasil engine

        1. @banbrorace The top teams would not be using the engine they expect to race with in FP1 & FP2. Just too many risks, especially on this track. They’re almost certainly using their oldest or highest mileage engines for practice.

          1. At this point in the season these engines used today might be going straight in the dumpster in the back of the paddock after today. This pool of old engines and components must be on their last legs.

          2. Thanks. Silly me, knew the answer as I do the same on F1 on the PS4.

            Not quite the same as this white knuckle ride. LOL

  10. That was quite a big impact from Charles. The whole right hand side of the car looked completely wrecked. It’s gonna be a long night for the Ferrari mechanics. The most important thing is that he is O.K. and the tecpro barrier was doing its job, because the car got stuck there and wasn’t bouncing off the barrier and back onto the circuit.

    It’s hardly a surprise seeing Mercedes on top, given the fast and flowing layout of the circuit. RB need to either set up their car better for the softs or run the mediums in Q2 and Q3, because their car never looked well balanced on the softs.

    It seems as if a lot of improvement can be found just in tyre preparation. The laps of the Alpha Tauri drivers were quite interesting in that regard. While Tsunoda was very fast on his first run on the hards, he just couldn’t find the time on the softs and even failed to improve at all. Gasly on the other hand didn’t look very comfortable on his first set of tyres, but was flying on the softs and almost knocked off Hamilton off P1.

    We could see quite an unusual qualifying here tomorrow, with drivers needing at least two preperation laps to bring the tyres up to temperature. Getting the most out of the softs will be crucial tomorrow.
    I doubt Verstappen can do something about the Mercedes in qualifying, because the track has just too many full-throttle-sections, which doesn’t suit the RB as much as it does the Mercedes.
    Behind them, it’s impossible to predict. Alpha Tauri seemed to have the best single lap pace (though he was the only driver who managed a decent lap), while Ferrari and Alpine had decent long run pace and McLaren weren’t far off etiher.

    1. Verstappen was absolutely chucking it into t4 t20 like it was q3. Just no margin at all. I think he knows that he has to absolutely hammer those high speed sections to get pole.

    2. One more thing: The soft doesn’t look to be a particularly good race tyre. Ocon and Leclerc were much quicker (about 0.6) than their team mates on their long runs on the mediums.

  11. Didnt expect to see mclaren in those positions…

    One key thing about that crash was that Leclerc didn’t ricochet off the barriers. Dont know if these are some new barriers but it just absorbed all the impact and stopped that car in its tracks

  12. I like it. Very different style of track. On the edge; one mistake and you’re done. This is what we want to see in street tracks.

  13. This is a warning shot for the weekend.

    A similar accident or a misjudgement attempting an overtake on the fast, unsighted parts could well be catastrophic in quali or race conditions.

    1. As long as the cars don’t bounce back onto the track it will probably be just a frustrating record breaking red flagged race, probably ruining some drivers’ races while allowing free pit stops to others, ruining battles along the field…

      I hope to be proven wrong though

  14. After watching the first two practice sessions I don’t see this track as dangerous as people make it out to be. Yes there are concrete barriers, yes they are close to the circuit, the same can be said of Monaco and Montreal. Could they have built the track with the barriers a few more feet away from the white lines? Very likely. Would the drivers then go across the white line and get even closer to the barriers? Absolutely!

    What gives me the most relief about this track if the amount of grip the surface looks to have, this should not be a repeat of Turkey 2020. I expect some fast lap times on Saturday and hopefully some battles on Sunday (sadly I foresee the race to be more about pit strategy and over/undercuts for the front runners with the midfield drivers typically delivering the on-track action.)

  15. I tend to look at Bottas and Perez as an indicator of form rather than Hamilton and Verstappen. Based on that, it looks like Merc in charge.

    1. @squeakywheel Me too though I’d also generally put Bottas a level up from Perez over one lap.

  16. Seems like Maclaren have just given up

    1. I think everyone is working on next year’s car. There is a test in just a few months.

  17. Have Mercedes put the new Brazil ICU in now for the practice sessions today? I assume they could’ve run the engine used in Losail for these practice sessions as they have not yet entered Parc Ferme. It’s a point I’m curious on as they were already looking faster.


  18. Following my earlier concerns about this circuit (, Leclerc’s wasn’t the accident I had feared – we may have to wait till Q1 for the big one. So the track managed to be dangerous in other ways I hadn’t imagined. We can learn a lot from this crash, and it looks like everyone is utterly failing to do so.

    Nobody appears to have stuck around after the session to watch Anthony Davidson’s analysis, where he played the in car view at quarter speed. This shows that LECLERC’s HELMET ACTUALLY HIT THE HALO. Sorry for shouting, I’m just appalled nobody has noticed this. Davidson judged that it came close, but it’s clear that it bounced off it. I really wish he would have a brain scan before continuing, but he has G force sensing earbuds, so I’m hoping that he just got lucky and the resulting forces weren’t off the scale.

    So whilst it’ll be too late to move the halo further from the helmet for next year’s cars, they should be considering it for the following season. Possibly for next year, they should still consider raising the cockpit side protection padding, as it could easily be higher particularly behind the peripheral view eyeline. Its clearly not high enough to account for seatbelt stretch.

    I’m also appalled by how many people are saying the Techpro barriers did their job by absorbing all the energy. They did a terrible job by doing that very thing in such a short space, maximising the G forces. Neither row of barriers appeared to move back much at all, mainly because the spacing of the red intermediate sections of the first and second barriers were aligned with each other, meaning that because Leclerc first impacted directly at their position, neither of the barriers properly gave way in their typical wave fashion. In future, double Techpros must always be positioned such that the red intermediate sections are spaced offset from each other. Dead easy to do, but Masi is asleep at the wheel, so hasn’t thought of this simple installation improvement. I suggest that a row of tyres would have also helped soften the blow, as had been seen in Max’s silverstone crash.

    Regarding the massive Q1 crash to come, I just hope they do what they should have done years ago and enforce a much shorter maximum allowable lap time apportioned per sector rather than over the entire lap. Furthermore, they should enforce it for all sessions, not just after P2. But no, they will only wait till somebody is dead before addressing such a predictable tragedy.

    I feel like I’m suffering from pre-traumatic stress disorder. Cannot wait for this weekend to be over.

Comments are closed.