Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022

Leclerc quickest by a tenth from Verstappen in opening Jeddah practice

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix first practice

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Charles Leclerc used the soft compound tyres to set the fastest time of first practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Ferrari’s time of 1’30.772 was just over a tenth faster than Max Verstappen’s best effort, which the Red Bull driver set using the hard compound. Valtteri Bottas was third fastest for Alfa Romeo, ahead of Carlos Sainz Jnr.

It was a warm and sunny start to the track action in Saudi Arabia as first practice got underway in the early evening light.

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit had undergone minor modifications since last year’s first race in December, with the last corner just one being made wider. Verstappen, who hit the wall on the exit of turn 27 at the end of qualifying last year, ran deep into the corner and avoided the barriers, while Bottas did the same.

There was an early problem for Kevin Magnussen, who was told to come into the pits slowly without shifting down in his Haas. He was unable to make it back onto the circuit for the remainder of the session due to a suspected hydraulic leak that required the team to change a radiator on the VF-22.

Verstappen set the early benchmark on the hard tyres, before the session was briefly stopped in the early phase when a brake marker board fell off its mounting on the approach to the first corner. It came to a rest against the side of the track before it was hit by Lando Norris’s McLaren and showering debris across the circuit.

Once the track was clear, Leclerc went second fastest for Ferrari and Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly put AlphaTauri into third and fourth in the standings.

As the session progressed, a dark cloud of smoke slowly began to grow in the skyline to the north-east of the circuit. Verstappen reported a burning small in his Red Bull, but was told by his team that they were confident it was not from his car.

Leclerc then used the soft tyres to set his personal best time and the fastest time of the session, just over a tenth faster than Verstappen. As the chequered flag flew, the Ferrari driver went even quicker over the first sector, before a mistake at turn 16 made him abandon his lap.

Leclerc ended the session fastest ahead of Verstappen, with Bottas third quickest in the Alfa Romeo. Sainz was fourth in the second Ferrari, ahead of the two AlphaTauris of Gasly and Tsunoda, with Sergio Perez seventh in the second Red Bull.

Alexander Albon has been summoned by the stewards for allegedly impeding Mick Schumacher’s Haas at the high speed kink of turn nine during the session.

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix first practice result

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
116Charles LeclercFerrari1’30.77217
21Max VerstappenRed Bull1’30.8880.11624
377Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’31.0840.31222
455Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’31.1390.36714
510Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red Bull1’31.3170.54528
622Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red Bull1’31.5050.73326
711Sergio PerezRed Bull1’31.5630.79125
831Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’32.0261.25426
944Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’32.3641.59220
1014Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’32.3811.60923
113Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’32.5061.73424
1218Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’32.5821.81023
134Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’32.5941.82224
1424Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’32.6081.83626
1563George RussellMercedes1’32.8392.06719
1627Nico HulkenbergAston Martin-Mercedes1’33.0342.26223
1723Alexander AlbonWilliams-Mercedes1’33.0872.31525
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’33.5292.75726
1947Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’34.4293.65722
2047Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariNo time set2

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2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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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...

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11 comments on “Leclerc quickest by a tenth from Verstappen in opening Jeddah practice”

  1. Looking good for Max so far, to have done that time on the hard tires. Just FP1 of course but all Ferrari and Honda pus in the first 7 spots, with only Zhou and Haas as the exceptions.

  2. Just the usual FP stuff.

  3. Was seeing reports around that there was an attack which may have been a missile strike on an Aramco facility not too far from the circuit & indeed you could see a big cloud of black smoke on the TV feed.

    Was there not some concern about this a few days ago?

    1. @roger-ayles Shhh. Everything’s fine, this is a great event, the crown jewel of the season.

    2. There was an attack some days ago, related to the war in Yemen. I haven’t seen any news of a new attack inside KSA. With the Russian attack on Ukraine and resulting crisis, it’s easy to forget that the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world right now is in Yemen and the government of KSA is up to their armpits in that.

  4. Wow, Bottas still maintaining relevance inside Top 6 after switching to Alfa Romeo.

    1. Happy for him to be a team leader now and have a strong pu, but he still has to translate that to race craft on Sundays.

    2. Yes, I think this is a sensation. P6 in Bahrain, despite clutch issue at the start was a master performance. Of course it’s early in the season and other teams can get their acts together.

  5. Thank you for the report.

    To me, it is the first time for a long time that there was no mention of Mercedes-Benz or Lewis Hamilton in a practice report – only in the lists of times.

    Makes a refreshing change!

    1. Wow, true, that’s like unheard of!

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