Verstappen leads Friday, Alonso close behind
Max Verstappen has led the first day of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, finishing first in both practice sessions with a close Fernando Alonso behind.
In the first minutes of the FP1 session, everybody went out with either soft or hard tires, except for Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso, and Lance Stroll, that used the softs.
Alonso was already finding the rhythm like he did in Bahrain, and exchanged positions with Perez at the top of the charts.
Everybody had already hit the track, while Max Verstappen was still waiting in the garage. Despite that, he seemed fine after informing on social media that he did not feel well in the last few days. After 20 minutes, the Dutchman brought his Rb19 out of the pit lane, using the soft tires.
At the halfway mark, Verstappen was the fastest, ahead of Alonso and Perez. They were separated by only 0.098 seconds.
Ferrari also tried using soft tires with both drivers. After one lap, Carlos Sainz went only seventh fastest, and Charles Leclerc finished just one position ahead of his teammate. Between them and Perez (P3), there were Alexander Albon, Nico Hulkenberg, and Kevin Magnussen, all with softs.
George Russell also entered the fight, putting his W14 in P4, with Lewis Hamilton just behind. Then, Sainz and Leclerc went for a second flying lap. The Spaniard ended up in P6, while his teammate was only eight.
With 10 minutes to go, Hamilton seemed to have started a race pace simulation, while Verstappen still went for flying laps, putting 0.525 seconds between him and Alonso in P2.
In the end, it was Verstappen ahead of Perez, Alonso Stroll and Russell. Hamilton was sixth, Sainz seventh, with Pierre Gasly, Albon and Yuki Tsunoda completed the top 10.
The first and only practice under the lights went underway with the Red Bull cars showing their strong pace around the track, with Verstappen and Perez on top followed by Alonso.
Further back we saw both Alpines and Albon sticking consistently inside the top 10. Leclerc was behind him, and Sainz three places back in P10, all of them with the medium compound tire.
Alonso split the Red Bulls in half in the closing stages, being +0.299s faster than the Mexican driver.
Leclerc's position only worsened - the Monegasque closed the final practice of the day ahead of his teammate in 9th place. Hulkenberg was ahead of them, while his teammate, Magnussen, only P15.
We'll see more defining paces and action tomorrow during qualifying, so anything can change after today's results.