F1 LIVE: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes target big FP3 improvements at Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and can anyone take down Red Bull and Max Verstappen?

Can Mercedes challenge Red Bull in the new F1 season? | you ask the questions

Max Verstappen will be eyeing another dominant weekend as the F1 paddock arrives in Jeddah for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver led a comfortable one-two for the world champions in the first race of the season in Bahrain, with Sergio Perez second.

Fernando Alonso came third for Aston Martin, which was the surprise, while Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished fifth and seventh respectively.

Charles Leclerc – who was involved in a thrilling battle with Verstappen in Saudi Arabia last year – had to retire in Bahrain, with Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz returning home in fourth place. This year’s race is the third grand prix held at Jeddah’s fast street circuit. Verstappen was fastest in both practice sessions yesterday, a day in which Hamilton parted ways with his longtime performance coach.

Follow Saudi Arabia GP qualifying with The Independent – FP3 starts at 1.30pm (GMT) before qualifying at 5pm.


F1 LIVE: Verstappen vs Alonso

Here’s a fascinating side-by-side look at the two fastest FP2 laps last night!

Who are you betting on this afternoon?

Kieran JacksonMarch 18, 2023 12:42 pm


F1 LIVE: Sky adds former McLaren and Aston Martin strategy guru Bernie Collins to its F1 team

Sky Sports has added former McLaren and Aston Martin head of strategy Bernie Collins to its team of Formula 1 analysts for the 2023 season.

Collins, who was a performance engineer at McLaren and head of race strategy at Aston Martin, will make his first Sky appearance in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix paddock this weekend.

Sky says she will be racing at other races throughout the year, as well as at Sky Studios, and is the first addition to the Sky F1 team since Johnny Herbert and Paul di Resta left in the off-season.

“I am really excited to start this new chapter with the Sky Sports F1 team and want to thank them for the opportunity,” said Collins in a Sky press release. “After many years on the pit wall, I look forward to embracing this new role in F1 from a spectator perspective and enhancing your racing experience.”

Collins’ role “will help to explain and demystify all things team strategy and engineering for Sky Sports F1 viewers old and new”.

Kieran JacksonMarch 18, 2023 12:31 pm


F1 LIVE: Verstappen arrives in the paddock!

The two-time world champion has arrived in Jeddah!

Kieran JacksonMarch 18, 2023 12:22 pm


F1 LIVE: Ted Talk! F1 cult hero Kravitz talks pit lane secrets and… cheese

Exclusive interview by Kieran Jackson

Ted is talking about cheese. For a Formula 1 pit lane reporter working in a world of tire compounds and tread specs, Ted always finds himself talking about cheese. Usually in pre-season testing. A bizarre synonym, some might say, and readers who don’t drool over the daily flurry of digital F1 content might already be a little lost. Don’t worry, you’re forgiven.

Sky Sports’ ever-present pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz – from the BBC and ITV before that – has such an inimitable presenting style that the man himself has built a devoted following, however much he hates him. Ahead of your 22na pit lane reporting year and 27th working in the sport he loves, Ted’s approach to interacting with fans is constantly evolving. This year, forget about TikTok: it’s all about TedTok. So back to the cheese.

“TedTok was too good for anyone to steal,” says 48-year-old The Independent, in the unusually formal setting for him of an office at Sky Studios. “So I’m just going to put nonsense about making things with cheese in there.

“I put a video of me and Anthony [Davidson] choosing the perfect cheese in Bahrain to carve the car’s venturi tunnels to the edge of the ground… it’s harder than you think.

“You could have a block of cheddar, but then it would just disintegrate and the whole shoot would have been a disaster. It took 20 minutes and Anthony was right in choosing the right type of cheese… gouda!”

Kieran JacksonMarch 18, 2023 12:15 pm


F1 LIVE: Can Mercedes build a ‘Plan B’ car in time to save the season?

Kieran Jackson Commentary

Never mind waiting for the first race of the Formula 1 season. A weekend of testing, three practice sessions and qualifying in Bahrain told Toto Wolff everything he needed to know.

No sandbag. No magic solution. No hiding. Just hours into the 2023 campaign, the Mercedes boss – once the sport’s unflappable executive titan – sounded dispirited as he addressed the press early on Saturday. Acknowledging that his team’s persistence, bordering on stubbornness, was a mistake, he revealed that a change of course is already underway.

Speaking after George Russell and Lewis Hamilton qualified sixth and seventh respectively, the Austrian said: “I don’t think this package will be competitive eventually.

“We did our best over the winter and now we just need to regroup, sit down with the engineers, be totally undogmatic and ask what is the development direction we want to go in order to win races. ”

As far as sporty U-turns go, this is pretty seismic. Race Weekend #1 of 23: Tear Up and Start Over.

Kieran JacksonMarch 18, 2023 12:04 pm


F1 LIVE: Formula 1 accused of ‘enabling violence and bloodshed’ when racing in Saudi Arabia

Formula 1 is once again under increased scrutiny for racing in countries with poor human rights records after the brother of a man executed in Saudi Arabia last year insisted the sport’s silence “allows violence and bloodshed”.

Fifteen days after holding the opening race of the 2023 season in Bahrain, F1 returns to Jeddah for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – a country where there have been 13 executions in the last two weeks.

Last year, 81 men were executed in a day just before the grand prix, 41 of whom were from the Shia minority who took part in protests calling for greater political participation, according to the United Nations.

One such man was Mustafa al-Kjayyat and his brother, Yasser al-Khayyat, insists that F1 is being used as a “tool to wash away Saudi abuses”, in a letter seen by The Guardian and addressed to F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.

“They use the spectacle of this sporting championship to divert attention from the murder of my brother and hundreds of others,” he wrote. “The GP running normally, without even mentioning the atrocities that have just been committed on that same ground, legitimizes these heinous crimes.

“Silence is complicity. This is how the regime gets away with its atrocities and represses calls for democratic reforms. If you really want Formula 1 to be an agent of change rather than a tool for the ‘sportyness’ of Saudi abuses, please end Formula 1’s silence.”

Kieran JacksonMarch 18, 2023 11:59 am


F1 LIVE: Lewis Hamilton announces shocking split with performance coach

ICYMI yesterday, some shocking news from the seven times world champion…

Lewis Hamilton has announced that his time working with performance coach Angela Cullen has come to an end.

The seven-times world champion has worked with physio Cullen for the past seven years, with the New Zealander alongside the Mercedes worldwide star as an integral part of his support team.

Cullen, 48, joined Hamilton’s team in 2016 and has been by his side in four of his seven world championships.

However, suspicions were raised on Friday morning as Hamilton did not arrive at the paddock in Saudi Arabia with Cullen at his side, before the 38-year-old himself confirmed the news on Instagram.

In an emotional post, he said: “For the past seven years, Angela Cullen has been by my side, pushing me to be the best version of myself. I’m a stronger athlete and a better person because of her.

“So today I hope you will join me in wishing her the best as she takes the next steps to pursue her dreams. Thank you for everything Ang, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.”

Kieran JacksonMarch 18, 2023 11:57 am


F1 LIVE: Good morning!

Welcome to the independents Live coverage of the third practice and qualifying at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah!

Max Verstappen continued his dominance on Friday, topping the timesheets in both sessions, while his closest challenger remained Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.

It was another day of struggle, however, for Mercedes and Ferrari. Can they improve on Saturday?

FP3 kicks off at 1.30pm (GMT) before qualifying at 5pm – stay here for all the latest updates and news!

Kieran JacksonMarch 18, 2023 11:54 am

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