JEDDAH — Charles Leclerc set the pace for Ferrari in first practice ahead of the Formula 1 STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2022.

The Monegasque driver went quickest with a time of 1:30.772, just 0.116 seconds ahead of Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

Valtteri Bottas completed the top three in the new surroundings of Alfa Romeo.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton complained of the infamous porpoising effect throughout the practice, telling the garage that “there's a lot of bouncing."

The Mercedes team had hoped that the smoother tarmac of the Jeddah street track would soak up some of the bumps. Russell and Hamilton started the session with drastically different rear wings, the younger driver running a much thicker wing with more downforce - and more drag.

With Russell only 0.1 of a second slower each lap, both drivers eventually swapped to the slicker wing. However they rarely troubled the top cars, running a full second behind.

Hamilton’s problems continued throughout the session and were compounded as he clipped the wall. It did not look like the car was damaged but it showed just how close to the edge Hamilton is having to run to chase the pace of the Ferrari and Red Bull.

Both the Red Bulls suffered DNFs in Bahrain. The team said that the issue was due to a vacuum in the fuel pump preventing it from getting enough fuel to the engine.

A statement said: “The correct amount of fuel was in both cars, but a vacuum prevented the pumps from drawing fuel and delivering it to the engine.

“We’ve taken the necessary steps to correct this issue and we expect no problems this weekend.”

Cars this season are running a new fuel that uses 10 per cent green ethanol. With the cars deep into a run, the fuel runs at a slightly different temperature.

Fernando Alonso was the first driver out on track in the first practice of the weekend. His Alpine is already running a replacement engine after suffering problems last weekend in Bahrain.

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