Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022

Leclerc takes a clean sweep of fastest practice times ahead of Verstappen in Jeddah

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix third practice

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Charles Leclerc went quickest ahead of Max Verstappen for the third consecutive practice session ahead of qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver put in the best time of the session at the chequered flag after Verstappen made a mistake at the formidable turn 22 on his qualifying simulation run. Sergio Perez ended practice third fastest in the second Red Bull, with Carlos Sainz Jnr in fourth.

The teams were greeted with cooler temperatures than Friday’s early afternoon session when they took to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit for the first time on Saturday.

Having missed the final phase of yesterday’s second practice after both drivers hit the wall, the two Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz were quick to venture out onto the track to make up for lost time, getting some laps with the soft tyres under their belt. Leclerc went faster than team mate Sainz to set the early benchmark.

Sergio Perez split the two Ferraris to go second, also on the soft tyres, after his first hot lap of the day. Eventually, Verstappen went faster than all of them, using the softs to break the 1’30 barrier for the first time with a 1’29.768.

Pierre Gasly appeared to be in trouble when he was told to stop his AlphaTauri at the pit exit after he reported a suspected driveshaft problem. As he had crossed the white line marking the pit exit, the AlphaTauri mechanics were unable to recover the car. Thankfully, Gasly was able to push the AT03 back to the pitlane with the assistance of a pair of marshals in the pitlane, and the team were able to begin work on the car back in the garage.

In the final ten minutes, teams began to run qualifying simulations with Valtteri Bottas putting his Alfa Romeo into second place with the soft tyres. Verstappen set some blistering opening sectors on his next lap, but a mistake at turn 22 saw him ride roughly over the kerbs and abandon his lap before the end.

Perez improved to go second behind his team mate’s previous best time, just over half a tenth away. Nicholas Latifi brushed the wall on the exit of turn two and had to recover to the pitlane, ending his session.

Then, as the chequered flag flew, Leclerc improved on his best time to pip Verstappen at the top of the times by just 0.33s. Sainz was unable to do the same, leaving Leclerc to finish atop the standings ahead of Verstappen for the third consecutive session in Saudi Arabia.

Perez was just under a tenth behind in third, with Sainz fourth in the second Ferrari. Bottas ended the session in fifth, ahead of Esteban Ocon and Gasly. Kevin Magnussen ended a much-needed trouble free run eighth fastest in the Haas, ahead of Fernando Alonso in the second Alpine and Yuki Tsunoda rounding out the top ten.

Lewis Hamilton was 11th fastest for Mercedes. The remaining seven Mercedes-powered cars, headed by his team mate George Russell, filled the bottom seven places.

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix third practice result

Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’29.735 23
2 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1’29.768 0.033 12
3 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1’29.833 0.098 15
4 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 1’30.009 0.274 21
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’30.030 0.295 22
6 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1’30.139 0.404 16
7 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Red Bull 1’30.148 0.413 11
8 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1’30.262 0.527 18
9 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1’30.296 0.561 17
10 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Red Bull 1’30.415 0.680 19
11 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’30.707 0.972 17
12 47 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1’30.765 1.030 16
13 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’30.946 1.211 20
14 63 George Russell Mercedes 1’30.983 1.248 14
15 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’31.067 1.332 18
16 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1’31.186 1.451 15
17 23 Alexander Albon Williams-Mercedes 1’31.374 1.639 16
18 27 Nico Hulkenberg Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’31.424 1.689 18
19 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1’31.529 1.794 17
20 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1’31.992 2.257 13

Third practice visual gaps

Charles Leclerc – 1’29.735

+0.033 Max Verstappen – 1’29.768

+0.098 Sergio Perez – 1’29.833

+0.274 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’30.009

+0.295 Valtteri Bottas – 1’30.030

+0.404 Esteban Ocon – 1’30.139

+0.413 Pierre Gasly – 1’30.148

+0.527 Kevin Magnussen – 1’30.262

+0.561 Fernando Alonso – 1’30.296

+0.680 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’30.415

+0.972 Lewis Hamilton – 1’30.707

+1.030 Mick Schumacher – 1’30.765

+1.211 Zhou Guanyu – 1’30.946

+1.248 George Russell – 1’30.983

+1.332 Lance Stroll – 1’31.067

+1.451 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’31.186

+1.639 Alexander Albon – 1’31.374

+1.689 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’31.424

+1.794 Lando Norris – 1’31.529

+2.257 Nicholas Latifi – 1’31.992

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 FP3 Fri/Sat diff Total laps
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’30.772 1’30.074 1’29.735 -0.339 55
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1’30.888 1’30.214 1’29.768 -0.446 59
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1’31.563 1’30.360 1’29.833 -0.527 65
4 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 1’32.802 1’30.320 1’30.009 -0.311 48
5 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’33.850 1’30.832 1’30.030 -0.802 58
6 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1’32.026 1’30.760 1’30.139 -0.621 68
7 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Red Bull 1’31.317 1’30.963 1’30.148 -0.815 68
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1’32.344 1’30.262 -2.082 33
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1’32.381 1’30.944 1’30.296 -0.648 67
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Red Bull 1’31.505 1’30.886 1’30.415 -0.471 71
11 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’32.364 1’30.513 1’30.707 +0.194 61
12 George Russell Mercedes 1’32.839 1’30.664 1’30.983 +0.319 63
13 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.594 1’30.735 1’31.529 +0.794 67
14 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1’35.412 1’31.169 1’30.765 -0.404 66
15 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’34.692 1’31.615 1’30.946 -0.669 73
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’33.484 1’31.372 1’31.067 -0.305 69
17 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.506 1’31.527 1’31.186 -0.341 63
18 Alexander Albon Williams-Mercedes 1’33.087 1’31.866 1’31.374 -0.492 70
19 Nico Hulkenberg Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’34.219 1’31.615 1’31.424 -0.191 71
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1’33.529 1’31.814 1’31.992 +0.178 65

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2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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24 comments on “Leclerc takes a clean sweep of fastest practice times ahead of Verstappen in Jeddah”

  1. No Merc powered cars in the top 10, kind of worrying for them I imagine.

    1. Yes, already in bahrein that was very visible, the mercedes engine seems to be lacking and is affecting also the teams they supply.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        26th March 2022, 15:27

        According to Toto, the engine is fine and it’s just drag that’s causing issues… I don’t believe anything he says but that’s the company line at the moment.

        1. @esploratore1 @petebaldwin The engine or the new fuel mix not suiting the Mercedes engine so well?

          1. @david-br,
            That what was reported by Auto Motor Und Sport while in testing in Barcelona. They said that the Mercedes engine seems to be affected by the E10 fuel and lost some performance as a result. They said the Ferrari PU on the other hand seems to have made a similar step forward compared to the one made between 2020 and 2021.

          2. @tifoso1989 To me that would just seem more likely given that engine performance (Mercedes, Honda, Ferrari) was converging and the new factor is the fuel (also apparently responsible for Red Bull’s double failure last race). It seems wildly improbable that it’s coincidence that the Mercedes-powered cars are all suffering relatively, but then I don’t see why they wouldn’t just admit it’s the new fuel, so it’s kind of perplexing.

          3. @david-br

            The new fuel is being used for ‘green’ credentials

            Mercedes are in F1 to further the brand

            Saying their engines aren’t as good on a greener fuel isn’t great for their image

          4. @philipgb I don’t really see why a temporary adaptation problem should damage their image, but I guess it’s possible they might think that.

    2. typical Merc sand bagging, everyone knows they are the fastest car, they will push the party time button tomorrow.

    3. Clearly they didnt turn op the engines like the other teams. Last race showed they have power. Its just the car that has some issues.

      1. When exactly did they show they had power? When they could pass on they straights even when aided by DRS?

    4. @t1redmonkey on a different note, given that Red Bull claimed to have got on top of their power unit issues, I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the fact that Tsunoda has had to have the engine, MGU-H, turbocharger, MGU-K and the exhaust changed on his car just before qualifying. Maybe it is because Red Bull seem to have quietly changed the power unit without making any comment about it, and it’s only because they’ve had to log the change in parts with the FIA that it’s now coming out?

      We know that Gasly had to change much of his power unit due to damage from the fire in Bahrain – he’s had to take a new engine, MGU-H, MGU-K, battery, control electronics and exhaust – and Perez has also taken a new MGU-H and a new turbocharger unit for this race.

      Given there were no reports of any problems for Tsunoda in Bahrain, and given the initial feedback when he stopped on track in practice was that there wasn’t a major issue, the fact that they’ve now had to change a large chunk of his power unit does raise the question of whether Red Bull might have more issues than it is perhaps admitting to.

  2. Both Ferrari cars were surprisingly fast in S1. It wasn’t even close with the Red Bull, but they slowly lost most of that throughout the rest of the lap. It seems both teams set their cars up quite differently, probably playing to their respective strengths.

    Notably, all Mercedes cars were in the bottom 10. Either they were all instructed not to run with their full power, or there is something more to their collective lack of pace than just big wings and bouncing cars.

  3. A shame Max overdid it on the chicane coming into the final sector, as that would’ve put him fastest by about 0.3 or 0.4 over Leclerc.
    Once again the Ferrari is very fast through S1, but loses a lot of time on the straights. The RBs were up to 12 kph faster on every straight, that’s a massive difference!
    Some of that must be down to engine mode, because there is no way the Ferrari is so slow down the straights. Not with a potent PU like theirs. The fact that Bottas was just 0.3 behind Leclerc is also suspicious.
    I expected Mercedes to drop back a little, but definitely not by such a big margin. I hope they’ve got plenty of power to play with in quali, otherwise they could find it difficult to make it into Q3.
    Alpha Tauri, Alfa Romeo and Haas looked very strong this time, while the promise McLaren showed yesterday seems like a false dawn now.

    1. @srga91
      RBR might have gone for a low downforce set up. They already did that last year in both Jeddah and Abu Dhabi. If they will qualify on the front row, they might prove very difficult to overtake on the track.

      1. @tifoso1989
        That applies to pretty much overybody, as Jeddah is the 2nd fastest track after Monza in terms of average speed. I doubt Ferrari is running much more downforce than RB.
        Time will tell, but somehow I can’t imagine them being so superior (with a less powerful PU btw) on the straights.

        1. @srga91
          The Honda PU is just there with the best no question about it. What I meant is that RBR might have gone too far in their low downforce set up.

  4. Bottas nearly one second faster than Russell, ouch. Talk about good and bad career choices (so far, at least).

    1. If Bottas actually had a choice, he would have chosen to stay.

    2. merc is faster than williams, so its was a good choice for both of them.

  5. Top 10 are bunched up nicely despite the long track. Should make for an interesting quali

  6. Mercedes HPP missing Andy Cowell yet? They seemed fine iterating without him but I think that this step change has proven a bit much for their remaining staff. They are painfully lacking in top end power and based on race runs may need to do more fuel saving. Going to be a long year

  7. Mercedes customer teams weren’t great either last year. I don’t see that the PU is limiting the performance of any of those teams now falsifiably.

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