FP3 for the Saudi Arabian GP concluded with Charles Leclerc on top, as the teams and drivers tweaked their setups for the final time before qualifying. The main topic for discussion though was how the FIA and F1 have decided to continue racing in Saudi Arabia despite the attacks on the country yesterday.
A statement was officially put out today regarding the same, saying that the authorities have confirmed that nothing untoward would happen to the drivers or teams as they raced around the streets of Jeddah. The lack of communication yesterday night was poor management by F1 though, and the backlash online to continue racing has been quite immense. Regardless of this, here’s the updates on the events of FP3.
FP3 was a mostly quiet session, with not much in terms of drama or action. Drivers all used the soft tyre at various points during the session, indicating that pace and speed was yet to be found. The Red Bulls looked to be much closer to the Ferraris during this session.
Kevin Magnussen finally got a proper session in, actually completing the session this time out with a good result. Pierre Gasly had issues with his driveshaft, having to stop in the pitlane and having his session end then and there. The AlphaTauris showed good pace in FP1, though reliability is a doubtful topic for all teams up and down the pitlane.
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 26, 2022
Valtteri Bottas set a fantastic lap to go P2, though was soon displaced by the Red Bulls and Ferrari cars. Max seemed to have the advantage in the latter half of the session, and the Red Bull cars generally looked very competitive today. In the final few seconds of the session, Leclerc went quickest- though only by a whisker as the top 3 were covered by less than a tenth of a second!
Carlos made a mistake on his final flying lap and due to it couldn’t improve, while we saw a few drivers tap the wall and ruin their laps. Both Alpine and AlphaTauri cars were in the top 10, though the standout performances in this session were from Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas, who seem to be outperforming their cars each session.
Mercedes seem to be in deep trouble- Lewis was 11th, while George was 14th at the close of the session! In fact, all 8 Mercedes-powered cars were outside the top 10, which certainly doesn’t spell good things for them. McLaren looked to be absolutely nowhere, with Daniel 16th and Lando second-to-last with 19th.
As we head into qualifying, it looks to be a hotly-contested battle between the Ferrari and Red Bull cars. Mercedes look to be in trouble, while the midfield battle looks to be a straight fight between Alpine and AlphaTauri. Qualifying is set to be a thriller under the lights, as we find out who will lead the pack away at lights out tomorrow.