Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc sets pace after fire at Aramco oil depot delayed the start of practice session two

Second practice at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was delayed by an attack on an oil facility in Jeddah.

Drivers and team principals met to discuss possible steps in an emergency meeting called by F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.

A statement from the Saudi Motorsport Company read: “We are aware of the attack on the Aramco distribution station in Jeddah earlier this afternoon and remain in contact with the Saudi security authorities.

“The race weekend schedule will continue as planned. The safety and security of all our guests continues to be our main priority and we look forward to welcoming fans for a weekend of premium racing and entertainment.”

When the session did get underway it was again the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc that set the pace.

Leclerc finished with a time of 1m30.074s, once again ahead of the Red Bull of Max Verstappen with Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari completing the top three.

The Ferrari was forced to retire when Leclerc clipped a wall and damaged part of the front left suspension. He limped back to the pit lane with a snapped suspension strut that team engineers will toil to replace.

Sainz also limped home to finish the session early.

Lewis Hamilton could only manage fifth fastest and was half a second off the pace of Leclerc.

The Mercedes team switched the seat and tweaked the rear wing of Lewis Hamilton’s car as he continued to suffer from porpoising.

Speaking after the first practice session earlier in the day, Hamilton said: “It’s different. It shouldn’t be as bumpy as Bahrain. Bahrain is obviously an older circuit, more character because it’s as old as it is.

“This track is super-fast but a different surface, [so] it will behave with the tires differently. [With] these long, long straights it might not be too fun with the bouncing if we still have it. But those that have the bounce are in the same boat and hopefully we will fix some of it.”

Yuki Tsunoda drew another set of yellow flags when his Red Bull-powered AlphaTauri ran into trouble once again. With the Red Bulls failing to finish in Bahrain, their power train is yet to convince.

The Japan driver just made it into the top ten quickest times before hitting trouble.

Kevin Magnussen’s bad luck continued as he was forced from the track with half an hour of the session to run. He had asked his team for permission to push and within a matter of corners suffered a hydraulics issue that cut his practice short once again.

The 2022 car’s reduced visibility and larger size threw up further issues as the teams wrestle with the new regulations, with the tight pit lanes and track walls claiming their fair share of carbon fibre bodywork.

1. Leclerc, Ferrari, 1m30.074s

2. Verstappen, Red Bull, 1m30.214s

3. Sainz, Ferrari, 1m30.320s

4. Perez, Red Bull, 1m30.360s

5. Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m30.513s

6. Russell, Mercedes, 1m30.664s

7. Norris, McLaren, 1m30.735s

8. Ocon, Alpine, 1m30.760s

9. Bottas, Alfa Romeo, 1m30.832s

10. Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, 1m30.886s