Formula 1: Verstappen and Alonso confirm at the Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia, Ferrari in difficulty

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Max VerstappenAnd Red Bull is already ahead! The two-time world champion and reigning World Cup champion set the fastest time on the first day of free practice in North America The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Grand Prizethe second round of the Formula 1 World Championship, while Ferrari I encountered great difficulties. The 25-year-old Dutchman, winner of the first Grand Prix of the season in Bahrain two weeks ago, continues to outpace the competition as he dominated two free practice sessions on Friday on the street circuit from Jeddah.

At the end of the afternoon he set the fastest time almost half a second behind his pursuers, before doing so again during the second session, competing at night and representing the conditions in which the races would be held. Qualifying on Saturday and racing on Sunday. In the evening, however, he saw his main rivals close the gap in the schedule. Veteran Spaniard Fernando Alonso (41 years old) really achieved the second time with a difference of 208/1000, thus confirming the excellent performance of his Aston Martin, with which he climbed to the third podium in Bahrain. Canadian teammate Lance Stroll finished seventh.

Mexican Sergio Perez, the only pole position of his career here last year, took third place 299/1000 from Verstappen, confirming the clear superiority of the Red Bull team at the start of the season.

Ferrari’s in hard

On the other hand, Ferrari had a very difficult day on Friday. Already under pressure after a mediocre performance in Bahrain, the Dancing Horse brand has failed to raise the bar. Monegasque Charles Leclerc, who had to retire in Bahrain and will be penalized ten places on the starting grid after replacing an electronic component during the inaugural Grand Prix, set the ninth best time on this first day of testing, shortly before the race. Spanish teammate Carlos Sainz.

Dropped to 738 and 989/1000 respectively behind Verstappen’s Red Bull, the Italian single-seater will have to work hard on Saturday to get close to the best. “Sainz said we still have to find the performance but the car makes a good impression. We will focus on improving our qualifying results tomorrow (Saturday).»

Mercedes had a mixed day: if George Russell finished well fifth, Lewis Hamilton couldn’t do better than eleventh. “I struggled through the two sessions, the seven-time world champion admitted (…) We’re going to improve the balance and make the car easier to drive. It will take time to solve problems, but everyone works hard so you have to be patient and give everything you have the right way.»

Alps in vitality

In addition, Hamilton will now have to dispense with physiotherapist Angela Cullen, with whom he has worked for seven years and who announced on Friday on Instagram that she is leaving Mercedes. The Brit, who was very close to her, paid tribute to her on the same social network: “Thanks to her, I am a stronger athlete and a better person.Today’s sweet surprise came from Alpine, who placed both of their cars sixth. Esteban Ocon, avenging after retiring in Bahrain after several mistakes, was fourth fastest, while Pierre Gasly was also solid with sixth fastest. .

The car is looking good so far and I think we can get more out of it before qualifying.Akon said. “The car delivers good sensationsAbounded Gasly, who had made an impressive comeback in Bahrain by finishing ninth after starting last on the grid. Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg also did well as he unexpectedly finished eighth at the wheel of his Haas, while debutant Nico de Vries took center stage. (AlphaTauri), Logan Sargeant (Williams) and Oscar Piastri (McLaren) finished last in the standings, just ahead of Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo).

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