Charles Leclerc put in the fastest time of the second practice session for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, even though the Ferrari driver hit the barriers to cost himself the final 15 minutes of running.
The session got underway after a 15-minute delay, caused by a meeting between the drivers, team bosses and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali to address the situation after a fire broke out at a nearby Aramco fuel facility.
With Red Bull's Max Verstappen initially setting the pace on the Medium tyre, Leclerc took over at the front just before the halfway point of the session. The Bahrain GP winner set a 1:30.074 on the Soft compound to go a tenth quicker than what Verstappen had managed on the Mediums.
However, Leclerc was out of the practice session just a few minutes later as he glanced the barriers at Turn 4.
Turning in slightly too early, he tapped his front-left wheel against the wall and immediately backed off as he realised the extent of the damage to the F1-75. While there was nothing evident externally, he radioed in to say he had damaged the car and withdrew to the pits.
Oddly enough, Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz had done almost the same thing – glancing the barriers as he exited Turn 13. He also withdrew to the pits, with Ferrari keeping both of their cars in for extensive checks. Sainz finished the session in third, with the two Ferraris split by Verstappen. Sainz, like Verstappen, also set his best time on the Medium tyre.
Verstappen never managed to get in a clean lap on the Soft tyre, due to yellow flags forcing him to back off.
Result Free practice 2 - Saudi Arabian
More problems for Magnussen
With Kevin Magnussen having sat out the entirety of first practice due to a hydraulic issue, the returning Haas driver's fortunes failed to improve significantly for the second session.
Magnussen reported feeling as though his VF-22 was down on power, but was given the green light to tackle a flying lap just after the half-hour mark.
However, Magnussen's car appeared to switch itself off as he ran over a kerb in the first sector of the lap, forcing him to pull over and stop – meaning a disastrous lack of running for the Dane, who had never driven at the circuit before Friday's track time.
Another driver eliminated before the end of the session was AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda. His car appeared to suffer a technical failure after driving over a kerb, and he pulled over and stopped at Turn 4 as the yellow flags came out to cover the incident.
Mercedes close the gap to the front
With Sergio Perez popping his Red Bull into fourth place, the two Mercedes drivers finished in fifth and sixth and, encouragingly for them, were just half a second away from the pace set by Leclerc at the front.
With both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both reporting extensive porpoising down the long straights of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, the best times set by the pair were on the Soft tyres.
Lando Norris gave McLaren fans some hope after their disastrous Bahrain weekend, as he finished in seventh, ahead of Alpine's Esteban Ocon, Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas and Tsunoda rounding out the top 10.
F1 Podcast: First blood to Ferrari as F1's new era begins in style
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour, and Thomas Maher look back over the 2022 season opener in Bahrain, which was won in dramatic fashion by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.
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