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Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2024

Verstappen throws down gauntlet in 'Mario Kart' first practice

The Red Bull driver topped the timesheets in the first session of the weekend at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Verstappen Saudi
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To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen got off to the best possible start to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend by topping FP1.

The Red Bull driver set a best time of 1:29.659 to finish 0.186secs faster than Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Sergio Perez was on pace in third as matters in F1 turned to the on-track action, rather than the turmoil off-track.

Result Free practice 1 - Saudi Arabian

# Driver Team Time Tyre
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Verstappen complained about "some weird engine behaviour" on his soft-tyre run yet was still able to set the benchmark for the rest of the weekend, even if the late afternoon conditions in Jeddah are unrepresentative compared to FP2, which will be run under the lights.

In a session of little drama, Lance Stroll was confined to his garage early on after sustaining minor damage to the left front of his Aston Martin having clouted the inside wall at the high-speed turn 22.

A number of plastic bags were seen floating across the circuit and having picked one up on his fastest effort, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc said: "The track is like Mario Kart, there are plastic bags everywhere."

At the end of the first hour of the weekend, Verstappen led Alonso and Perez with Mercedes' George Russell fourth.

Leclerc was fifth ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz, who recovered from illness to take part in the session. Lando Norris was 0.572s down on Verstappen in seventh, with only Lewis Hamilton and Stroll also within a second of the Dutchman's best effort.

Alex Albon rounded out the top 10 for Williams, whilst in the second half of the timesheets, Alpine was provided a small boost as Esteban Ocon set the 13th fastest time of the session.

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