Alonso continues to rub shoulders with the unstoppable Red Bull in the first free practice in Jeddah

The Spaniard, third, and his teammate Stroll, fourth, suggest another close fight against Verstappen and Pérez


The Dutch driver Max Verstappen (Red Bull) was the fastest this Friday in the first free practice session of the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the second round of the championship that takes place on the Jeddah Corniche circuit, with a time of 1:29.617 with which he surpassed the rest, including a Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) who was third.

Alonso continues to rub shoulders with the best, which for the moment are still the two Red Bulls, and was just over two tenths behind Sergio Pérez, second, and 698 thousandths off Verstappen’s best time, who was very fast and confident with the soft rubbers.

If he came from dominating the opening event in Bahrain on Friday, this time the Spaniard was third in this first contact with the strait -although remodeled to give more security-, twisty and very fast urban circuit of Jeddah. Good feelings shared, despite the occasional scare, by his partner Lance Stroll, fourth.

Behind the two Red Bulls and the two Aston Martins – which seem to be able to follow the trend of Bahrain and fight for the podium that Alonso achieved there – were the Mercedes of George Russell, fifth, and Lewis Hamilton, sixth.

Seventh was Carlos Sainz, the best of the Ferraris (Charles Leclerc, suspended in Saudi Arabia for engine changes, was eleventh) but far from the head. It was an atypical start to Friday at Ferrari, more pending these various changes, also in the car from Madrid (who did his best time on hard tires), mechanics and parts that did not look for times.

The ‘Top 10’ in this first practice session, of going on a fast lap rather than a long and very clean run and without accidents, was completed by Pierre Gasly’s Alpine, eighth, Alex Albon’s Williams, ninth, and the AlphaTauri Yuki Tsunoda, with a creditable tenth place for the Japanese.