Leclerc continues impressive start to season

After clinching the season-opening race in Bahrain, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (13/8 – Saudi Arabia Grand Prix Outright) showed that he means business this season after topping the timesheets in both P1 and P2 at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix on Friday.

Leclerc headed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who was forced to retire late into the Bahrain GP, by 0.116 seconds in the first session at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, while Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas was in third.

It was a similar story in P2, which got underway later than planned due to a huge fire that broke out after an attack at an oil depot 12 miles from the track, as the Ferrari ace was again ahead of reigning world champion Verstappen, this time by 0.140 seconds.

However, it was not all good news for Leclerc, who was unable to fit in any laps towards the end of the second session after damaging his car, while the second Scuderia of Carlos Sainz also stayed in the pits after some issues with his F1-75.

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Sainz was third in P2, ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, while the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell came in fifth and sixth respectively as the Silver Arrows continued to struggle for pace.

McLaren’s Lando Norris was seventh, ahead of Esteban Ocon in eighth, while Bottas dropped from third in P1 to ninth in P2 and the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda made up the top 10.

After the conclusion of second practice, an F1 statement confirmed the Saudi GP will go ahead as planned this weekend despite the afternoon’s attack, reading: “Formula 1 has been in close contact with the relevant authorities following the situation that took place today.

“The authorities have confirmed that the event can continue as planned and we will remain in close contact with them and all the teams and closely monitor the situation.”

It promises to be an intriguing battle for pole position in Saturday’s qualifying and Leclerc is 11/8 to start Sunday’s race at the head of the pack, while Verstappen is priced at 11/10.

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