Sunday, March 26, 2023 | Scary pace: Max Verstappen dominates Friday practices as he toys... | Scary pace: Max Verstappen dominates Friday practices as he toys with the grid




Max Verstappen dominated Friday in Saudi Arabia, topping both practice sessions. In the second, he improved on the quickest time set in the opening session, setting a 1:29.603.

He was again ahead of Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez (third) and the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso (second). The three top drivers were separated by 0.299 seconds – quite a bit closer than in the first session.

Alonso, it seems, will again be the Red Bulls’ biggest worry this weekend, but the Spaniard will hope to qualify well and get in on the action come the race on Sunday. If he can do that, it would not be too farfetched to imagine him possibly – POSSIBLY – challenging Verstappen for the win.

Alpine looking good

In a surprise turn of events, the two Alpine cars of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly were fourth and sixth quickest, with George Russell splitting the duo in his Mercedes. Lance Stroll was seventh-quickest in his Aston Martin, with the returning Nico Hulkenberg eighth in his Haas.

It was another challenging session for Ferrari as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr rounded out the top 10. Lewis Hamilton was 11th in the second Mercedes.

Fortunately for Hamilton, he closed the gap to Verstappen, cutting it down to 0.996sec after being off the pace by more than a second in the first.

The drivers were on a mixture of tyres, with the top runners opting for either the Softs or the Mediums. Lando Norris (McLaren, 12th) was the highest-placed runner on the Hard tyre, while teammate Oscar Piastri managed to go 19th quickest on the same rubber.

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