Free Practice 1 started at 3 p.m., Spanish time, and the drivers did not want to waste time testing the Jeddah track. Especially Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hülkenberg and Alex Albon, who are the rookies on this track because they have not raced on it.
The drivers have been testing the track, how far they can go. Many of them have had a few brake passes in some corners and counter wheelies, as they wanted to test the limits they could reach in Saturday's qualifying and Sunday's race.
They ran the soft and hard compounds to test their endurance and reliability.
The session was calm, except for the red flag caused by a sign on the track. The teams and drivers had time to test the cars and check the faults they might have.
Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez are the drivers who have had to test the most, as they have made changes to their cars. Alonso has changed the propellant, while the Mexican has changed the MGU-H and the turbo.
In this free practice session it could be seen that the track is finer than the one in Bahrain, this week it has been resurfaced. Although Hamilton and Carlos Sainz complained about the potholes, but they are fewer and smaller than last week.
The wind has been an enemy for the drivers, as it made it more complicated to control the cars and the curves were more difficult to trace. It could be one of the factors affecting the race and could cause problems for the drivers.
From what has been seen during Free Practice 1 is that the battle continues between Ferrari and Red Bull. Mercedes has not been able to recover or reach 100% for this Grand Prix, so they will be seen again in lower positions than the team wants.
Top speed today was 321 km/h by Max Verstappen.
With 43 minutes to go in Free Practice 1, the FIA decided to bring out a red flag. This was caused by the wind on the circuit and a sign fell on one of the corners of the track. Lando Norris, who did not see what had happened, hit the sign that was already on the ground, but did not damage the car.
The least affected by this red flag were the Ferraris who had not gone out on track. The rest of the teams checked their cars during the stoppage.
The teams were back on track 11 minutes later.
1st Charles Leclerc 1:30.772
2nd Max Verstappen 1: 30.888
3rd Valteri Bottas 1:31.084
Carlos Sainz had traffic on his last lap and finished 4th, but it is clear that the Spanish driver will be back in contention for the podium during this weekend. Fernando Alonso managed to finish 10th, very close to Lewis Hamilton.
Mercedes were again behind: Hamilton 9th and Russell 15th. They hope to improve for qualifying and to be able to finish in the points this Sunday.
Hecontinues to fill in for Sebastian Vettel, who continues with COVID-19 although he has been confirmed to be fine.
This circuit is new to Hülkenberg, so the driver will be running as much as possible on this track in order to learn from it and achieve a good qualifying for Aston Martin.
Many feel that the German driver is best suited for substitutions. Although all teams have their reserve drivers for possible cases in which their officials can not compete, when it comes down to it, they are looking for experience and Nico Hülkenberg has it.
The German has shown that he can get used to any single-seater and, moreover, in a short time.
The Spanish driver was the first to take to the track in Jeddah. Alpine have changed their propellant (power unit) because they found a fault after the last race in Bahrain.
The team has sent the old part to the factory in France for them to study it and find the fault. For the moment, Alonso is running with the new power unit and will not get any penalties as it is the second power unit fitted so far this season.
The width of the track has been widened at turn 27 (almost 2 meters) and the barriers have been modified for possible impacts and to improve the visibility of the drivers, they have been moved half a meter. Since the cars are taller due to the wheels, it does not allow them a good view of accidents or events on the track.
It does not have as many bumps as Bahrain, so the cars can run lower and load their cars with more fuel.
It is a low downforce circuit, with a lot of speed as it is one of the fastest circuits of the season and it is also one of the longest circuits.
This circuit is new for Nico Hülkenberg, Alex Albon, and Kevin Magnussen.
Compounds for this GP
Pirelli has been studying the degradation at this circuit and has decided that the compounds for this weekend are: C2, C3 AND C4. That is to say, it has opted for the soft (red color), medium (yellow color) and hard (white color).
Pirelli claims that there will not be much degradation this weekend and even the teams could opt for one stop in the race.