A first Friday run for everyone in F1 Saudi Arabian GP and everyone had a good outing with no major issues to report while they learnt the circuit.

The Friday in F1 Saudi Arabian GP saw drivers being mesmerised by the Jeddah circuit, especially the fast flowing nature. A lot of them focused on the qualifying pace considering the difficulties in overtaking in a narrow street track.

Despite setting the best time in both the sessions, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton reckoned that they did not have the pace on one lap but felt better on the race side. Having trialed two different set-ups, the Brit will work through the night to decide the better one.

Teammate Valtteri Bottas was happy with the base as he enjoyed the track. Over at Red Bull, Max Verstappen couldn’t generate heat in his tyres in FP2 and the changes from FP1 to FP2, it didn’t work as smoothly as he had hoped for.

He reckoned they will need to find more pace, something which Sergio Perez agreed to. The Mexican F1 driver has been a slower driver in general when starting the weekend and comes alive by the race day but he will need a good qualifying on Saturday.

Hamilton: “Jeddah is unbelievably quick. It really is incredibly fast. And a lot of grip as well. But if you can get the rhythm, it’s beautiful to drive.“What I noticed straight away is that the grip is very, very high, from the moment we went out – I don’t know if we were much quicker or not in FP2. I think we were very much the same; our long run pace was similar. We’re not rapid on the single lap, I would say, compared to the others, but our long-run pace seemed like it was not too bad… Who knows what’s going on?

“As I said, we made some changes between sessions, and I’m unsure which one I want to stay with but we’ll study through it tonight and work with the guys back at the factory to try and make sure that we come with the correct set-up for tomorrow. It’s definitely not in a bad place. I think I said over a single lap, [Red Bull] are quite quick, so we’ve got a bit of work to do.”

Verstappen: “Overall, it’s a really cool track, there are a lot of fast corners and it’s fun to drive. We struggled to get heat into the tyres in FP2, which we will of course look into. Then we made a few changes from FP1 to FP2 which didn’t quite work but hopefully we can find the right balance come qualifying tomorrow. There are of course a lot of things to work on and improve so we’ll see what we can do to get more pace out of the car overnight. Looking ahead to qualifying, I think it might be quite difficult with the traffic but in general it’s hard to tell how Saturday is going to go as anything can happen but we’ll push hard and give it everything.”

Behind them, it was AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly leading the way again, but he had Alpine duo of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon around him for the second straight event. The Frenchman’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda did well too but was behind the trio – the Japanese driver ended up eighth having set his time on the hard compound but Pirelli reckons certain drivers felt comfortable on one set which is why he could push more.

The mix had Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz around them, but the former’s day ended with a mighty crash. The F1 team agrees damage to the car, but are confident that they use the same chassis on Saturday and also the engine.

The pace of the McLaren F1 duo is unclear as usually they start on the slower side on Friday, but they cannot be discounted from the fight too. Although, they seemed to be behind Ferrari which is not what they want amid a bigger gap to trim.

Leclerc: “Yes, a day that unfortunately didn’t end up the way that I wanted, but overall we went through everything we wanted to test. I think the potential is here and if we put everything together for tomorrow, we should have a good day. But obviously, I’m sorry for the team that will have to do a big, big work ahead of tomorrow for the car to be ready, and hopefully I will do a good enough job to thank them in the best way possible with a good result tomorrow.

“I feel relatively confident. I did a good build up through the day, you know, getting up to speed very little by little, and the pace has been there all day. Just trying different compounds, different fuel loads [and] we need to analyse who is in front and who is behind. But at the moment it looks like another very tight battle with AlphaTauri, Alpine… and McLaren and ourselves. So, it looks like from fifth backwards it could be a very tight fight like it was in Qatar.”

Gasly: “I must say, I really enjoyed it. It’s very high-speed, so we’re going through the corners at some crazy, crazy speeds, and you get quite a lot of adrenaline, a big rush of adrenaline, and the whole day has been very, very good for us. We were fourth this morning and third this afternoon. Really happy with the pace but still a bit more work to do for the long runs.

“Yes, we know on Saturday we usually do pretty well, so I’m quite confident for tomorrow, even if I still think we have work to do to improve and find a bit more performance, but I think mainly it’s for us to work on Sunday. We know that [the race is] where we struggle usually a bit more and today I didn’t feel great during the long runs, so I think we’ve got a bit more work to do on that side. But yes, except that the track is very cool to drive and [I’m] excited for tomorrow.”

Alonso: “I didn’t know that I was only 0.4s off the pace, so it is a surprise. Definitely the car is still feeling good. Recently we found a little bit of a sweet spot in terms of our performance and our set up, so we keep working. I think there are still too many unknowns going into tomorrow because we did test different things and we need to analyse a lot of data – more than any other Friday. I think the F2 is going to be a good reference for us because we are obviously concerned about the overtaking opportunities; being a street circuit it’s going to be difficult. Qualifying will be very important. So I think F2 will show us if it’s going to be a good show on Sunday or not.”

Norris: “A fun but difficult first day! Fun because it’s a new circuit, a new challenge, and exciting to get out there and feel the circuit. Definitely one of the trickier ones to put everything together and get the accuracy needed to be close to the walls – but not too close, obviously. It was a difficult day because it’s been a bit of a challenge to find a good balance with the car, so far. So, we have some work to do tonight to try to be a bit better for tomorrow. The confidence is there – at least, I feel confident to push the car, but we just have to get it in a better window. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

Behind them, Aston Martin seemed a little off where Sebastian Vettel couldn’t hook-up a fast lap. For Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, he could get straight into the rhythm after having driven the Formula E car for the last couple of days. On Williams and Haas side, all four were relatively happy with their run, even though they had few issues here and there.

Vettel: “It is a fast and fun track to drive, but it is difficult to hook up a lap. I was able to get into a rhythm this afternoon and felt confident in the car, but it became more tricky in the night-time conditions. We were exploring the limits more and trying a few things, so we need to review tonight and find a good direction for the rest of the weekend. Tomorrow will be an interesting challenge because it is a long circuit with a lot of corners taken flat, so there is little time to breathe and no room for errors. The timing of the laps in qualifying will also be crucial and I am excited to take on the challenge.”

Giovinazzi: “I really hit the ground running with this track, I had a great feeling and I am really happy about the day. I was a bit worried that, coming from a Formula E test, I’d be struggling to regain the feeling with this car and the pace, but that wasn’t the case. The car felt great from the start in FP1 and we can build on this for tomorrow. I had a good feeling in the quali runs in FP2 and we can make another step forward tonight. The track is really fast and fun and we were surprised by the amount of grip. When you have good grip on a street track, it’s really enjoyable – but we need to be focused as any small mistake can cost you a lot. I am looking forward to qualifying tomorrow, hopefully it’s going to be a strong day for us.”

Here’s how F1 Saudi Arabian GP FP1 panned out

Here’s how F1 Saudi Arabian GP FP2 panned out