Hamilton fastest in Saudi Arabia practice as Leclerc crashes heavily

Charles Leclerc suffers huge 170mph crash that left his Ferrari wrecked in practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton cranks the heat up on title rival Max Verstappen by going fastest at the brand new circuit

  • Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in Friday practice for the Saudi Arabian GP
  • Session was headline by Charles Leclerc huge crash in his Ferrari late on 
  • The Championship race is coming down to the final two events of the season 
  • Hamilton has cranked up the pressure on his bitter rival Max Verstappen 
  • He has won the last two races to close within eight points of the title leader 

Lewis Hamilton’s surge to a potential record eighth Formula One world title continued at pace as he set the fastest time in Friday practice for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver has won the last two races to close within eight points of championship leader Max Verstappen heading into the final two grands prix of the year. 

However, the title battle was overshadowed during Friday’s second practice session when Charles Leclerc crashed heavily for Ferrari during the final few minutes.

Charles Leclerc suffered a huge crash that saw him wreck his Ferrari late on in practice

The 24-year-old thankfully showed no sign of any serious injury as he leapt from the wreckage

After replacing his steering wheel, Leclerc assessed the huge damage done to his Ferrari

The Monegasque driver lost grip at the rear end of his Ferrari heading into a high speed left hander at turn 22 just shy of 170mph, sending him into a spin towards the Tecpro barriers which cushioned his impact as he collided with it off the circuit.

Leclerc apologised over the team radio for his error, before a check up at the medical centre saw him released back to his team. 

Thankfully the 24-year-old suffered no obvious injuries as he climbed out of his wrecked Ferrari, although the extent of the damage done to his car is yet to be fully known by his team who are now expected to work through the night to fix it. 

Hamilton was fastest in both the day’s sessions, toping the evening timesheets just ahead of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas with Verstappen around two tenths off in fourth. 

Lewis Hamilton was fastest throughout Friday practice for Mercedes in Saudi Arabia

Hamilton has set a high bar in Saudi Arabia which is hosting an F1 grand prix for the first time

SAUDI ARABIAN GP – FP2 TIMES

1 Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1: 29.018

2 Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 1:29.079

3 Gasly (Fra) AlphaTauri 1:29.099

4 Verstappen (Hol) Red Bull 1:29.213

5 Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:29.441

6 Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:29.555

7 Sainz (Spa) Ferrari. 1:29.589

8 Tsunoda (Jpn) AlphaTauri 1:29.597

9 Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:29.768

10 Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:29.772 

11 Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:29.968

12 Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:30.004

13 Giovinazzi (Ita) A. Romeo 1:30.110

14 Raikkonen (Fin) A. Romeo 1:30.276

15 Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:30.442,

16 Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1:30.502

17 Russell (Gbr) Williams 1:30.506

18 Schumacher (Ger) Haas 1:30.652

19 Latifi (Can) Williams 1:31.039

20 Mazepin (Raf) Haas 1:31.629 

Hamilton led the way off the track on Wednesday, speaking out against human rights issues and the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community in Saudi Arabia, admitting he was not comfortable racing in the country.

But he was certainly at home on the track on Friday, as a time of one minute 29.786 seconds saw him beat Verstappen by just 0.056 seconds, with the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in third in the first session.

Workers were still preparing the new venue into the late hours of Thursday night, with a planned ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the circuit promptly cancelled as final touches were put into place.

The Formula Two practice session also started late due to a minor “operational issue” before the F1 cars hit the Jeddah Corniche Circuit for the first time at 16:30 local time.

The inaugural race in Jeddah features as the penultimate event in a thrilling championship race

Hamilton also opted to wear pride colours on his helmet to draw attention to important issues

With the track untested and both qualifying and Sunday’s race taking place in the evening, this session was more of a feeling-out hour for the drivers.

But nevertheless, Hamilton will be pleased to top the timesheets, with Pierre Gasly fourth fastest for AlphaTauri and the Aston Martin of Antonio Giovinazzi fifth.

Ferrari were sixth and seventh in the form of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, as Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel rounded off the top 10.




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