(Jeddah) Reigning two-time world champion Max Verstappen (Red Bull) set the fastest time in the first free practice session of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, round two of the Formula 1 World Championship, on Friday at the Jeddah city circuit.

The only driver to have fallen below the 1 min 30 sec mark, the Dutchman is nearly half a second ahead of his Mexican teammate Sergio PĂ©rez, who took pole position here last season. The Austrian team thus confirms its clear superiority observed since the first laps of the season.

The two Aston Martins of the Spaniard Fernando Alonso and the Canadian Lance Stroll confirmed their excellent performances recorded in Bahrain two weeks ago by winning the third and fourth times, respectively seven and nine tenths behind Verstappen.

The two Mercedes of the British George Russell and Lewis Hamilton take the fifth and sixth fastest times, but are relegated to more than a second.

Already under pressure after a lackluster performance in Bahrain, Ferrari had a disappointing practice session: Spaniard Carlos Sainz is seventh while team-mate Charles Leclerc is only twelfth more than a second and a half behind the leader .

As a reminder, the Monegasque, who had to retire in Bahrain, will be penalized ten places on the starting grid after the replacement of an electronic component following the inaugural Grand Prix.

Frenchman Pierre Gasly (Alpine) took the eighth fastest time, while his compatriot and teammate Esteban Ocon failed to enter the Top 10 (12th), which is completed by Thai Alex Albon (Williams) and Japanese Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri).

The second free practice session, the only representative of the conditions of qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday, is scheduled for 8 p.m. local (6 p.m. French), at night.