Round Two of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship kicked off this afternoon with Free Practice at the Jeddah Street Circuit in Saudi Arabia.
Max Verstappen, who arrived late due to a stomach virus, managed to put in yet another dominant display of speed ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez as the team landed a one-two in first practice ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman delivered a 1:29.617 – faster than Hamilton’s lap record of 1:30.734 from 2021 – to finish almost half a second clear of his Mexican teammate.
READ MORE: Everything you need to know ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Marking a clear pattern so far this season, the Red Bulls were joined at the top of the timesheets by Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin in third, after another major sign of improvement for the team with Lance Stroll fourth.
Alonso was hesitant to sound too confident coming into this weekend and admitted they would need to see how the car at each circuit – so they will be best-pleased with their results so far in Jeddah.
Mercedes had George Russell was in fifth – one place ahead of Lewis Hamilton – as the team desperately attemp to claw back performance lost in Bahrain, but both cars were more than a second off Verstappen’s leading time.
At the press conference on Thursday, Hamilton admitted that he doesn’t believe the team will be fighting near the top of the field this season and even said everyone at Mercedes – including himself – needs a kick to get back to the top.
Carlos Sainz was seventh for Ferrari, who revealed that they have installed new power units on both of their cars for the second round of the season. This decision came after Charles Leclerc’s retirement in Bahrain.
Leclerc will incur a 10-place grid penalty for installing his third control electronics unit of the season, and finished this afternoon’s FP1 session in 11th.
Fans are eagerly waiting to see if Verstappen’s dominance will translate on the evening track under the lights. The later session will provide conditions much more representative of those that will be seen in qualifying on Saturday and for Sunday’s race.
Practice Two will take place at 5:00 pm Irish time.