F1 Saudi Arabian GP 2024 Free Practice 3: Timing and highlights

Follow the action as F1 teams and drivers take to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit for FP3 at the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP

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Welcome to the live blog for Free Practice 3 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.

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 2 proved to be difficult for some drivers, with Valtteri Bottas one of those to spin on cold tyres.

Fernando Alonso went quickest in FP2 with a lap that the rest of the grid struggled to get near. George Russell and Max Verstappen were in close pursuit, while Lewis Hamilton was hit with a warning from the stewards but avoided a penalty for impeding Logan Sargeant after a close shave between the pair.

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

Saudi Arabian GP 2024 Free Practice 3, latest updates


FP3 ends: Max Verstappen fastest but Ferrari are close…

Max Verstappen ends the session quickest overall with a 1:28.412, placing him 0.196s quicker than Charles Leclerc in second. The Ferrari produced a strong lap on the medium tyres to remain 0.7s behind the Red Bull for much of the session until everyone switched to a qualifying simultation.

That was caused by a late crash from Zhou Guanyu as he wrecked his Sauber by losing control of the car at the fast Turn 7. He’s the first driver to have a major accident this weekend.

On his first FP3 of the weekend, Oliver Bearman went 10th fastest (+0.894) as he replaces Carlos Sainz who requires surgery for a discovered medical condition.

Apart from the Zhou incident, there has generally been great car control throughout the weekend save for Logan Sargeant also clipping the wall in FP3.

Join us for qualifying later today (Friday), which begins at 20:00 local time in Saudi Arabia.

That’s little bit rude by the Haas…

As all the drivers rush to get back out onto the track, Nico Hulkenberg barges in front of George Russell’s Mercedes in the pit-lane.

Session will resume in ONE minute!

There are five minutes left of FP3 so this could get very messy…

Zhou will face a tough qualifying

Sauber have just over two hours to repair the car for qualifying, which begins at 16:30 UK time and it’s a big job too. The front and rear wings have been shattered as well as the suspensions.

We don’t even know the impacts on the floor and the gearbox yet. It’s a big job for the Sauber mechanics to pull off.

At least Sauber appeared to lack pace around Jeddah anyway, and seemed unlikely to compete for points.

More details on Zhou’s accident

He appears to have taken too much kerb on the left-hand side and lost the rear of the car by unsettling the tyres in the flat left hander at Turn 7 and from there, it’s straight to the wall of the accident.

“Sorry mate, I lost the car,” says the 24-year-old, into his third year with the team.

RED FLAG: ZHOU IN THE WALL

Zhou Guanyu loses his Sauber in Sector 1 and his the wall, wrecking his green and black car. Jeddah has claimed the first driver of the weekend.

He’s out of the car and everything seems okay.

MAX VERSTAPPEN HITS… a plastic bottle

That’s about as exciting as his races get these days. The Dutchman says he hit a bottle with his front-right tyre and pits, presumably to make sure the suspension is okay and it didn’t get sucked into the venturi tunnels under the car.

Lance Stroll impedes Pierre Gasly

The Aston Martin and Alpine are caught going wheel-to-wheel through the mostly blind first sector before Lance Stroll finally jumps out of Pierre Gasly’s way.

The Canadian then radios, “I didn’t get the message.”

So far we haven’t heard Gasly complain either.

Lando Norris is a tease

Lando Norris is on a fast lap all the way through and was competitive with the time Max Verstappen had set could he go fastest?

We won’t ever know because he pits at the end of the lap instead of smashing the timing charts. He remains 0.9 off in 5th but that’s clearly not his true pace.

Sargeant hits the wall

Just as we say the car control has been very good, Logan Sargeant is spotted hitting the wall and breaking the suspension at Turn 22. He turned in just a fraction too early and it had some serious consequences.

He’s able to return to the pits to allow Williams to inspect the car.

Not much to report

At the moment, most of the cars are on one lap runs but there isn’t much change going on. Car control is perfect from all drivers bar brief moments but nothing scary has happened.

The Haas cars look solid so far as they’re in 3rd (Magnussen on a fast lap) and 8th (Hulkenberg). KMag is 0.6 back from Verstappen.

30 minutes gone: Verstappen fastest

Almost all of the cars are on track with competitive times now. Only Logan Sargeant is yet to set a time. Max Verstappen predictably leads the pack with a 1:28.893.

Charles Leclerc, though, is second fastest with a 1:29.206 on medium tyres. He’s just three tenths slower and that’s very impressive from the Ferrari.

20 minutes gone: Perez fastest

The Mexican began 2024 in solid form around Bahrain and he seems to have continued that through into Saudi Arabia so far as he goes fastest overall with a 1:29.562 which is even quicker than what Max Verstappen did… Comfortably…

Perez was on pole here in 2022 and 2023, could he make it three in a row?

More drivers are taking to the track now

After 20 minutes, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez emerge out of F1’s heavy hitters whilst four more drivers join them too. Still no sign of Max Verstappen yet.

Russell half a second up on Hamilton

George Russell, on the softs, goes around 0.460 faster than his teammate, Lewis Hamilton. He has been quicker around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in 2022 and 2023 and on the basis of FP1 and FP2, that doesn’t seem likely to change in 2024.

Bearman’s straight up to speed

Oliver Bearman, who has replaced Carlos Sainz, has shown good early speed on the mediums as he goes half a second faster than Valtteri Bottas.

For him, this session is all about finding confidence and learning how the Ferrari behaves around the track on what is the biggest weekend of his career so far. He’s aged just 18.

Hamilton fastest after 10 minutes

The Mercedes driver is on the softs and sets a 1:30.793 to lead the field, although only five drivers are actually out on track right now: Hamilton, Bottas, Bearman, Zhou and Russell.

Hamilton’s lacked one-lap pace all weekend so this is an important session for the British racer.

All you need to know about Carlos Sainz’s replacement for the remainder of the weekend!

In F1 Academy, Doriane Pin wins on her debut

The first of two races was won by the Frenchwoman, who is sponsored by Mercedes F1. She beat Abbi Pulling by around one second over 12 laps in a closely-fought battle out at the front of the pack.

Pin has the potential to become the first female F1 driver since Giovanna Amati in 1992.

Big news: Carlos Sainz is OUT of the Saudi Arabian GP!

The Spanish driver missed media duties on Wednesday and, despite taking part in FP1 and FP2, will not appear in FP3, qualifying or the race as he battles appendicitis.

He will be replaced by Ferrari’s junior prospect, Oliver Bearman. The British driver was actually on pole for the Formula 2 feature race but has now ben handed an incredible opportunity to cameo his talent in F1.

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.

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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