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Max Verstappen will be eyeing another dominant weekend as the Formula 1 paddock rolls into Jeddah for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, while Lewis Hamilton is in need of a strong showing.
Red Bull driver Verstappen led home a comfortable one-two for the world champions at the first race of the season in Bahrain, with Sergio Perez in second.
Fernando Alonso came home third for Aston Martin, who were the surprise package, while the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and George Russell finished fifth and seventh respectively. Hamilton won his last F1 race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in December 2021 – but said on Thursday that his team need six cars to retire in order to win in Saudi.
Charles Leclerc – who was involved in a thrilling battle with Verstappen in Saudi last year – had to retire in Bahrain, with Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz coming home fourth. This year’s race is the third grand prix held at the lightning quick street circuit in Jeddah.
Follow practice at the Saudi Arabian GP with The Independent – FP2 started at 5:00pm (GMT).
F1 practice LIVE: OFFICIAL LEADERBOARD!
Here’s the full timesheets…
Kieran Jackson17 March 2023 18:17
F1 practice LIVE: FP2 DONE!
Practice starts on the grid now as the session comes to a close – and it’s Max Verstappen who’s once again quickest!
Fernando Alonso second, 0.208 seconds off top spot, with Sergio Perez third on another day of domination for Red Bull.
4-10: Ocon, Russell, Gasly, Strooll, Hulkenberg, Leclerc, Sainz.
11-20: Hamilton, Norris, Tsunoda, Albon, Magnussen, Zhou, De Vries, Sargeant, Piastri, Bottas.
Kieran Jackson17 March 2023 18:06
F1 practice LIVE: Traffic paradise never stops!
Expect carnage in Q1 tomorrow!
Kieran Jackson17 March 2023 5:55 PM
F1 practice LIVE: 10:00 left in FP2…
Verstappen still top with that time, while Fernando Alonso remains in second and Sergio Perez in third. Esteban Ocon is something of a surprise name in fourth.
5-10: Russell, Gasly, Stroll, Hulkenberg, Leclerc, Sainz. Hamilton still 11th…
George Russell insists they need to “make some changes”. His engineer agrees. Verstappen, meanwhile, complaining about some downshifts, particularly in the last corner.
Kieran Jackson17 March 2023 5:50 PM
F1 practice LIVE: Verstappen close to the wall!
The double world champion fully on the limit…
Kieran Jackson17 March 2023 5:41 PM
F1 practice LIVE: 30:00 left in FP2…
All the field on softs now – and Max Verstappen still top, this time with a 1:29:603.
Fernando Alonso two-tenths further back in second, with Sergio Perez in third. George Russelll is fourth – half-a-second down (not too bad).
5-10: Stroll, Gasly, Hulkenberg, Ocon, Leclerc, Sainz.
Lewis Hamilton down in 11th currently!
Kieran Jackson17 March 2023 5:35 PM
F1 practice LIVE: Lewis Hamilton will need to leave Mercedes if we do not improve, says Toto Wolff
Hamilton’s £40million-a-year contract with the Silver Arrows expires at the end of the season and his future is under the microscope following their poor start to 2023.
Hamilton was only fifth at the first round in Bahrain before he finished a distant sixth in opening practice on Friday for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, 1.2 seconds adrift of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Although team principal Wolff remains convinced that Hamilton, 38, will pen a new deal, he also said that his star driver’s head could be turned as he pursues a record eighth world championship.
“If Lewis wants to win another championship he needs to make sure he has the car,” said Wolff.
“And if we cannot demonstrate that we are able to give him a car in the next couple of years then he will need to look everywhere. I don’t think he is doing it at this stage, but I will have no complaints if that happens in a year or two.”
Kieran Jackson17 March 2023 5:28 PM
F1 practice LIVE: 45:00 left in FP2…
No change from FP1 at the top – Max Verstappen was pushing like mad on his medium-tyre run and goes three-tenths faster than Sergio Perez in second.
Fernando Alonso is third for Aston Martin, six-tenths down.
Charles Leclerc not happy with Nico Hulkenberg blocking him around the banked corner – and Verstappen is complaining about his headrest!
4-10: Gasly, Ocon, Albon, Leclerc, Stroll, Hamilton, Sainz.
Kieran Jackson17 March 2023 5:18 PM
F1 practice LIVE: FP2 is underway!
With the floodlights now shining down on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, we’re underway with the second practice session in Saudi Arabia!
Can anyone, possibly, knock Max Verstappen off his top-of-the-table perch? Maybe it’ll be his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez? Or how about Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso?
Mercedes making a late setup change to George Russell’s car as he leaves the pit lane…
Kieran Jackson17 March 2023 5:03 PM
F1 practice LIVE: Lewis Hamilton announces shock split with performance coach
Lewis Hamilton has announced that his time working with performance coach Angela Cullen has come to an end.
The seven-time world champion has worked with physiotherapist Cullen for the last seven years, with the New Zealander by the Mercedes star’s side around the world as an integral part of his support team.
Cullen, 48, joined Hamilton’s team in 2016 and has been by his side for four of his seven world championships.
Yet suspicions were raised on Friday morning as Hamilton did not arrive in the paddock in Saudi Arabia with Cullen by his side, before the 38-year-old himself confirmed the news on Instagram.
In an emotional post, he said: “For the last seven years Angela Cullen has been by my side, pushing me to be the best version of myself. I am a stronger athlete and a better person because of her.
“So today I hope you’ll join me in wishing her the very best as she takes her next steps to pursue her dreams. Thank you for everything Ang, I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you.”
Kieran Jackson17 March 2023 4:56 PM