Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and other drivers complain at Saudi Arabian GP

Red Bull and Aston Martin led the way in Saudi Arabia just as they did on the opening day in Bahrain two weeks ago.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen ended the opening day of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in his usual position, with the Dutchman having been the strongest both over one lap and over race distance; however, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was once again right on his tail.

The Bahrain Grand Prix winner topped both Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2, with his team-mate having finished second in FP1, whilst Alonso was second in FP2.

Whilst the leaderboard suggested that Verstappen had a tenth or two over the entire field, data following FP2 showed that Alonso’s best-lap would’ve been just under a tenth behind Verstappen, had it not been for traffic.

Not everything was plain sailing for the 25-year-old, though, as he complained of “really bad” downshifts at the final corner, suggesting that Red Bull might have some issues to deal with throughout the remainder of the weekend.

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Verstappen wasn’t the only driver to complain of an issue, with Alpine’s Pierre Gasly having jumped onto the radio to criticise his brakes.

“These brakes are completely rubbish,” Gasly complained.

Lewis Hamilton was another driver who was seen to be struggling on the opening day, with the 38-year-old having struggled for grip at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

“Struggling for grip. How much time are people finding?” Hamilton asked.

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It also wasn’t just Verstappen who had issues at Red Bull, with Sergio Pérez having complained of low grip as well, suggesting that a theme could be developing in Jeddah.

“I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t have any front end,” Pérez said.

Pérez also suffered from a mechanical issue on the opening day which resulted in the Mexican having an inconsistent start to the weekend.

Despite his issues, Checo is confident that he can extract “even more pace” from his RB19 come qualifying.

“It was all about learning the conditions today. From FP1 to FP2 the track changes a lot, so it was good to test the car in varying temperatures,” Pérez said in Red Bull’s press release.

“We had a bit of a mechanical issue, which meant there was slight inconsistency and we couldn’t get a proper read, but we’re confident we can sort it out before tomorrow. Once we fix that, it will hopefully bring us even more pace, but generally the performance is there as expected.

“I’m sure our rival teams will work hard overnight to close the gap and we look forward to a competitive showing tomorrow.”

Back at the top and Verstappen’s appearance at Jeddah on Friday was the first time he’d been seen all weekend, with the Dutchman having missed his media duties on Thursday after delaying his flight due to a stomach bug.

He is in much better health now, though, and was pleased to have a “positive” day.

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“I am feeling a lot better after a few rough days of illness, it wasn’t nice but I am feeling good now,” Verstappen said in Red Bull’s press release.

“Today out on track was about finetuning things, we had a positive day but there are still quite a few things we can do better. On the long runs we all seemed fairly close to each other but it’s more because of managing the tyres because they don’t really let you push around here at the moment.

“With a very low deg circuit then the lap times will always be very close, so it is definitely not going to be like Bahrain.”