Max Verstappen shrugs off Saudi Arabia top practice error

Max Verstappen showed no ill effects from his stomach bug on Friday as he took the lead over Fernando Alonso in Friday’s second free practice session for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. ) became the time leader for Red Bull Racing. The reigning double world champion shrugged off the stomach upset that delayed his 24-hour arrival in Jeddah to set a best lap time of 29.603 seconds in one minute, 0.208 seconds ahead of two-time champion Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin. Sergio Perez was third in the second Red Bull ahead of Esteban Ocon in the Alpine, George Russell in Mercedes and Pierre Gasly in the second Alpine.

“I think we had a positive day, but I think we can improve a lot,” Verstappen said.

“It’s just fine-tuning, downshifting. Something we’ve been doing,” he added.

Perez revealed he had mechanical issues.

“Hopefully we can sort this out tomorrow,” he said.

“It would get us up to speed so I could get a better idea of ​​where the car was. It was inconsistent today and it was difficult to get a proper reading.

“We looked strong, but the competition came as expected.”

Alonso’s Aston Martin team-mate Lance Stroll was seventh ahead of Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg and the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, both equipped with new power unit.

Leclerc was already handed a 10-place penalty on Sunday for his third ECU of the season.

Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton was 11th at Mercedes with a best lap of 1:30.599, a second behind Verstappen on the day he announced he would no longer be with long-serving coach Angela Cullen. work together.

Alonso’s performance confirmed his pace this year after a strong third place finish in the season opener in Bahrain, but Verstappen set the pace with ease.

After Verstappen gained an early advantage in Red Bull’s opening practice session, race two started cooler with temperatures dropping to 25 degrees and track temperatures dropping from 44 to 31 degrees.

Stroll was the first out and Sainz was the early leader, but it lasted just five minutes before the world champion was on top again and Alonso responded with two tenths to go .

Leclerc unharmed

Stirring again, two moderately dressed Red Bulls responded. Verstappen led Perez by 1:29.952 until Alonso separated them again. His Aston Martin seems to be the only car capable of fighting them.

Perez then finished in 1:29.902, with last year’s pole-sitter Leclerc unscathed to brush past Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas.

The close-range split continued, with Red Bull leading by a narrow margin over Alonso, with Hülkenberg and Gasly two-tenths ahead after half an hour.

The gap between the top three was 0.012 before Verstappen improved again with a time of 1:29.603 before switching to soft tires to briefly simulate what might happen in qualifying on Saturday.

At this point, Russell climbed to fourth for Mercedes, with Hamilton in 11th.

“We need to make some big changes,” Russell said harshly. “Yeah, copy,” retorted his pit wall, seemingly sensitive to the team’s need to change approach as it seeks to turn around a slump.

(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from syndicated feeds.)

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