F1 Saudi Arabian GP 2024 Free Practice 1: Timing and highlights

Follow the action as F1 teams and drivers take to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit for FP1 at the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP


Welcome to the live blog for Free Practice 1 at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, set against the stunning backdrop of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. As the Formula 1 circus pitches its tents under the Arabian sky, fans worldwide are gearing up for what promises to be an electrifying session on one of the calendar’s fastest street circuits.

The anticipation is palpable as drivers prepare to navigate the challenging twists and high-speed straights of Jeddah‘s track. This session offers a first glimpse of the teams’ preparations and potential pecking order, setting the tone for the weekend’s racing spectacle.

Historically, the Jeddah Corniche Circuit has been a stage for dramatic battles and surprising outcomes, making every lap and turn crucial for teams and drivers alike. Free Practice 1 is not just a test of speed but a crucial strategy session, as teams gather valuable data and insights ahead of qualifying and the main race.

Stay tuned as we bring you live updates, expert analysis, and behind-the-scenes content from the heart of the action at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Whether you’re a die-hard F1 fan or a casual observer, this session is a thrilling start to what promises to be an unforgettable race weekend.

Make sure and join our 2024 Saudi Arabian GP LIVE Blog which starts at 20:00 local time.

2024 Saudi Arabian GP LIVE: Latest timing and updates

Report: Verstappen quickest as Mercedes and Aston impress

Max Verstappen set the pace in FP1 ahead of the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP as looks to continue his streak of F1 wins, but the picture behind him remains uncertain ahead of practice in representative conditions tonight.

Fernando Alonso was second but just a quarter of a tenth ahead of Sergio Perez – last year’s victor in Jeddah – with Verstappen comfortably the quickest driver at the start of the weekend.

However, the biggest news of the day so far broke before the session – Red Bull have suspended the employee who accused Christian Horner of ‘inappropriate and controlling behaviour’.

George Russell traded fastest laps with Verstappen early in the session but couldn’t match the Dutchman’s last effort, finishing three tenths down in fourth place ahead of the Ferrari duo led by Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc’s biggest problem of the session was a plastic bag getting stuck on his car though, with the Jeddah Corniche Circuit looking very dusty and dirty while Carlos Sainz overcame illness to take part in the session.

McLaren had a tough session on face value, but Lando Norris seventh and Oscar Piastri 15th, but the flying papaya had a conservative run plan and could have more to give under the lights later this weekend.

Lewis Hamilton continues to get to grips with the W15 and could only manage eighth, with Lance Stroll ninth and Alex Albon rounding out an impressive showing for Williams.

Where can you watch the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix?

Chequered flag

It’s the last chance to improve as the chequered flag is flown with Lewis Hamilton the first driver across the line, will anyone jump up the timesheets?

Track action

There’s no one threatening Verstappen’s time but there is still plenty of action on track as Logan Sargeant makes a nifty overtake on one of the Ferraris before sending a four-star review over team radio.

Five minutes to go

It’s not looking like anyone will beat Verstappen in the closing stages with plenty of drivers switching to hard tyres for their final run.

Sandbagging Binbagging

Mario Kart FP1

Charles Leclerc got a plastic bag caught in his Ferrari SF-24 and was immediately on team radio to complain. The Ferraris are sat fifth and sixth right now with Aston Martin and Mercedes looking like Red Bull’s closest competitors.

“The track is like Mario Kart, there’s like plastic bags everywhere”

Charles Leclerc over Ferrari team radio

Verstappen leads… and holds

Max Verstappen has climbed back into first place… and this time he keeps it as neither Mercedes can respond – Russell improves but is over a quarter of a second down while Lewis Hamilton is nowhere near the top right now.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull during practice ahead of 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Vowles confident

James Vowles feels Williams underperformed in Bahrain as they finished 15th and 20th led by Alex Albon.

However, Albon remains in the top 10 so far despite Vowles suggesting to Sky Sports F1 that Williams have lost some of their dramatic straight-line speed advantage from 2023, and the team principal is optimistic on the prospect of improving in Jeddah:

“Yeah pleased with that, we know the car has more punch and potential but any time you’re within a few hundreds of a Ferrari… There’s more to do but a good start”

Williams team principal James Vowles speaking to Sky Sports F1

We have another new leader

Had to get that one out quickly. Russell has been the more impressive driver so far today and immediately answers Verstappen’s time with an improvement of just 0.003 seconds.

He was only faster than the Dutchman in sector two but that was just about enough.

We have a new leader

Max Verstappen is the new pacesetter, putting four-tenths into Norris as he really pushes for the first time.

The TV coverage immediately cuts to Toto Wolff who’s sporting a wry smile – interesting given the rumours that Verstappen could be driving for Wolff at Mercedes in 2025.

It’s going soft

Lando Norris is the first driver to set some hotlaps on the soft tyres, and duly jumps 0.130 seconds ahead of Russell at the top.

Alex Albon is the next driver on the fastest rubber but can only manage third, pushing the Red Bull pair off the podium.

Perez party

We said he needed a big weekend, and Perez has beaten his teammate to go second in the FP1 standings.

He’s gone just over a tenth ahead of Verstappen but remains a quarter of a second behind George Russell – the early pacesetter.

More details emerge from Horner case

In the latest twist of the Christian Horner saga, Red Bull have suspended the employee that accused him of ‘inappropriate and controlling behaviour’.

Russell hits the front

George Russell is the latest to go top, with Verstappen also improving but being kept off top spot. Leclerc, Alonso and Hamilton are all within two-tenths of Russell but it’s not so rosy for Alonso’s teammate.

Lance Stroll brushed a wall and lost his wheel cover so has to return to the pits for a fix.

Verstappen joins the party

Max Verstappen has driven his first lap in anger and immediately jumped up to second, four-tenths behind session leader Fernando Alonso.

Meanwhile, after Alpine‘s catastrophic Bahrain GP weekend led to the departures of two senior technical staff, Pierre Gasly sits a morale-boosting third.

Washing machine at the top

Sergio Perez has now hit the top of the timesheets but there’s been plenty of turnover as drivers continue to make early improvements getting to grips with the tight circuit.

FP1 is underway

And FP1 is go go go! It’s already busy with all but four drivers heading out onto the circuit.

Sandbags away (finally)?

In hindsight, it’s clear how much Red Bull were holding back in free practice in Bahrain. Verstappen was 0.440 seconds a lap quicker than third-place Sainz on average in the grand prix, pace that they never showed in practice, but will Red Bull finally drop the sandbags?

We’re only five minutes away from finding out…

Sainz starts

The latest news from Jeddah is that Carlos Sainz will take part in FP1 for Ferrari.

The Spaniard has been feeling unwell and Ferrari junior Ollie Bearman had been standing by to step in while also racing in F2 this weekend, but Sainz will be taking to track in ten minutes’ time.

Perez to shine?

It’s a big weekend for Sergio Perez. He drove well to take victory here last year but that was with Verstappen starting from 15th, and the Mexican was soundly beaten last week in Bahrain.

He famously goes well on street circuits and could do with a morale boost, which all starts today… In 15 minutes’ time.

Pin this

Mercedes-backed Doriane Pin already turned up the hype machine ahead of her F1 Academy debut, taking a race win in UAE F4.

And the 20-year-old duly delivered this morning, topping practice ahead of Abbi Pulling and Lia Block, before qualifying at 18:30 GMT later today.

The F2 cars are out on the circuit now getting to grips with things, though the track got to grips with Rafael Villagomez when he hit the wall and brought out the red flag.

What to expect

With 25 minutes until things get underway, history has shown us that the Jeddah Corniche Circuit isn’t a challenge to be taken lightly.

Expect a tentative first few laps from drivers as they ease their way back into a high-speed track that punishes the littlest mistake – see Max Verstappen’s qualifying here in 2021.

However, the real simulation comes tonight when the sun sets and FP2 gives drivers their only chance to drive in race conditions before qualifying.

Hello and welcome!

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening to wherever you’re joining us from in the world, it’s almost time for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend to get underway!

It’s already been a busy couple of days off track but focus will shift to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in 30 minutes when FP1 starts, and we’ll keep you updated throughout the session.

Detailed 2024 Saudi Arabian GP Session Times

DateSessionLocalUK (GMT)US (EDT)US (PDT)Aus (AEDT)
Thu, Mar 7Practice 116:3013:3008:3005:3000:30*
Thu, Mar 7Practice 220:0017:0012:0009:0004:00*
Fri, Mar 8Practice 316:3013:3008:3005:3000:30*
Fri, Mar 8Qualifying20:0017:0012:0009:0004:00*
Sat, Mar 9Grand Prix20:0017:0012:0009:0004:00*
*Denotes next day

Pirelli Tyre Information for Saudi Arabian GP 2024

When Does the Saudi Arabian GP 2024 Start?

The anticipation for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2024 is building, with fans around the globe eager to see how the early season battles will unfold. Following the season opener in Bahrain, the F1 circus moves to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, promising another thrilling race under the lights. The Saudi Arabian GP, known for its high-speed straights and challenging corners, is set to take place on Saturday, March 9, with the main race lighting up the evening at 8pm local time:

  • UK and Ireland (GMT/UTC): 5pm on Saturday, March 9.
  • United States (ET/PT): 12pm ET / 9am PT on Saturday, March 9.
  • Australia (AEDT): 4am AEDT on Sunday, March 10.
  • Canada (ET/PT): 12pm ET / 9am PT on Saturday, March 9.

Where to Watch the F1 2024 Saudi Arabian GP in the UK

In the UK, the exclusive rights to broadcast Formula 1 are held by Sky Sports F1. Fans can watch every session live on the Sky Sports F1 channel, including practice rounds, qualifying, and the race itself. For those without a Sky subscription, NOW TV offers a Sky Sports day pass, providing a flexible way to catch the race.

Where to Watch the F1 2024 Saudi Arabian GP in the USA

ESPN continues to be the home for F1 in the USA, providing comprehensive coverage of the Bahrain Grand Prix across its channels. Live streams are also available through the ESPN App for fans on the go. Additionally, cord-cutters can opt for services like Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV, which include ESPN in their packages.

Where to Watch the F1 2024 Saudi Arabian GP in Australia

Fox Sports and Kayo Sports are the go-to platforms for watching F1 in Australia. Fox Sports will broadcast the Bahrain GP live on TV, while Kayo offers a streaming service tailored for sports enthusiasts, featuring live and on-demand access to the F1 season.

Where to Watch the F1 2024 Saudi Arabian GP in Canada

TSN and RDS secure the rights to F1 broadcasts in Canada, offering live coverage of the Bahrain Grand Prix in English and French. Streaming is available for TSN and RDS subscribers via their respective websites and apps, ensuring fans can watch the race on multiple devices.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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