Saudi Motorsport make further changes to Jeddah Corniche F1 Circuit
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Lewis Hamilton will be aiming to recover from a disappointing final practice session by qualifying well ahead of tomorrow’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, although Max Verstappen will be the overwhelming favourite for pole at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. The Dutchman topped the standings in both of Friday’s sessions and did so again in FP3 to lay down an early marker as he looks to maintain his 100 per cent winning record in 2023.
It was a trickier morning session for Hamilton, though, as he was over a second adrift of Verstappen’s pace despite setting his quickest FP3 lap on the softest available tyre compound. He was also left frustrated with the amount of traffic on the circuit and made his feelings known with an angry hand gesture after one of his laps was curtailed by a slow-moving Aston Martin just ahead of him.
Red Bull look to be well ahead of their rivals in terms of outright pace in Jeddah, although it could be an interesting battle just behind with the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin looking closely-matched based on their long runs in practice. It remains to be seen how the rest of the weekend will play out, though, with at least one safety car likely to be a strong possibility over the course of Sunday’s race.
Follow Express Sport‘s live updates from qualifying below…
Ferrari admit Red Bull are well ahead
Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur says that there is little point in Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz worrying about the pace of Red Bull as the Austrian outfit are simply too quick to be caught as things stand.
“We are quite confident about the outcome of the issue in Bahrain but we didn’t want to take any risks,” Vasseur tells Sky Sports F1.
“We can use the first engine a bit later in the season but it was just important to have a clean weekend. We always have a concern about everything but not especially about the engine.
“It is tight. Not with the Red Bull, because they are in front clearly, but from P3 to P7 it is very, very tight. Let’s see. I am not too pessimistic.”
Wolff: Mercedes can learn from Aston
Toto Wolff has insisted that Mercedes have plenty of lessons to learn from Aston Martin, who are currently much quicker in terms of outright pace in spite of their status as a customer team to the Silver Arrows.
“Why it helps us, they have the whole rear end from our car, the suspension, the engines, the gear box – all of that, so we know there are areas that are really good, that we mustn’t question too much,” said Wolff ahead of today’s qualifying session.
“But it’s other areas where the cars are fundamentally different where we need to set our focus there is a lot to learn. The team is on the up, they’re successful, so it’s for us to learn and not the other way around as it was for many years.”
Hello and welcome to Express Sport‘s live coverage of today’s qualifying session ahead of tomorrow’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen was the quickest driver across all three practice sessions and will be looking to follow up on his recent victory in Bahrain by claiming pole position ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez on the streets of Jeddah.
The Austrian outfit appear to have established themselves as the team to beat at this early stage of the new season, but Ferrari will be determined to make amends for their sub-par showing last time around by upsetting the apple cart this evening.
Mercedes will also be hoping to trouble the top positions over the course of today’s session, but it seems unlikely given their continued lack of pace in comparison to their Constructors’ Championship rivals.
We’re just 30 minutes away from the start of Q1 at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit and will be on hand to keep you updated with the on-track action as it happens…
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