Big surprise in training – old star Alonso in front

In the second free practice session for the race in the Kingdom, the world champion did not end up in first place. Instead, a veteran achieves the best time – ahead of a competitor.

Is this a first sign that the 2024 Formula 1 season may not be one-sided as feared? No Max Verstappen, no Red Bull – the checkered flag fluttered and something unusual could be seen next to the big one: Fernando Alonso was the fastest man in the floodlights in Jeddah, the veteran in the Aston Martin had stolen the show from the world champion. At least in training, Formula 1 got a little variety.

Spicy for Red Bull: In addition to Alonso, George Russell was also faster than Verstappen in the Mercedes, but the boss himself had the highest hopes. “If you listen to the drivers, our car doesn’t drive straight ahead or around a corner,” said Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff on Sky. “We’ll have to see what else we can do overnight.”

GP Saudi Arabia – Jeddah Street Circuit

placementDriver, teamdriverteamRound
Fernando Alonso

Fernando AlonsoAston Martin

Aston Martin28
George Russell

George RussellMercedes

Max Verstappen

Max VerstappenRed Bull

Red Bull27
Charles Leclerc

Charles LeclercFerrari

Sergio Perez

Sergio PerezRed Bull

Red Bull27

In fact, the results cannot be overestimated: The first two sessions before the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Saturday (from 6 p.m. in the live ticker on t-online) seemed more like a snapshot. Alonso drove the Aston Martin around the street circuit in 1:28.827 minutes, making him more than three tenths of a second faster than Verstappen, at least on one lap.

For qualifying on Friday (6 p.m. CET/Sky), Wolff expects an exciting battle for pole position – but with reservations. “Eight cars can be very close together again,” he said, “unless Verstappen adds one more. I don’t think he was happy with the car at all.”

Hülkenberg far behind

The Ferraris with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz took fourth and seventh place. Record world champion Lewis Hamilton only finished eighth. Nico Hülkenberg finished 18th in the Haas.

Before the second race of the season, Verstappen remains the big favorite. At the opener in Bahrain last weekend, the Dutchman also had room for improvement in training, he then took pole position in qualifying and won the race with great superiority.

And the Dutchman was only behind on Thursday on the fast lap. Verstappen was already significantly stronger than the competition on the long runs, so the record hunt can continue: He has won eight races in a row across all seasons. Verstappen himself set the record of ten wins in a row last year.