A new story from The Autosport Podcast
Out and we get to see some of the quicker lap times you can't always get an overall read of who is quickest, but it was a Max Verstappen, clean, sweep. In free practice to on the quick runs Verstappen posting a one 29 6 O three. In second, Alonso, in the Aston Martin, a one 29 8 one one. And the second Red Bull of Sergio Pérez, a one 29 9 O two. Joining us on the podcast today to discuss what's going on today's action and the big stories from auto sport dot com is the editor of our website Hayden Cobb. Welcome back to the podcast. You're doing all right. Hello, thanks for having me back again, yeah. I'm doing well. How are you? Good, yeah, good. No, we love having you on because we can talk about what happened today, but also what our listeners and readers of the website have been clicking on. So, you know, we can put the agenda together, but ultimately, it's our audience that dictate what they find interesting. So it's always good to go through with you the biggest articles on the website. But let's talk a little bit about today's free practice. Are you and the team, of course, have been covering that for our readers. It was Verstappen Alonso Perez, like I mentioned, then ocon in the Alpine. Then Russell and gasoline in the top 6 then stroll in the other Aston Martin, Nico hulkenberg and then leclerc and saints. So let's get into it, but first of all, can you tell us about the story we were running earlier this week about why Max Verstappen arrived to the circuit late? That's right. Yeah, it was a bit of an odd one to see all 19 drivers apart from the reigning world champion in the paddock on Thursday morning, but it turns out just happened to have been suffering with a stomach bug. A tummy bug I think is the exact phrase Red Bull used to describe it, which is quite cute. We can read through the lines. We can yeah, and yeah, I mean, I think we've all probably been there at some stage in our lives and it's never fun and so to get on a long haul flight from his Monaco home to Saudi Arabia, I think the other passengers that may have been sharing that flight with him would actually be thanking him for not getting on that flight if he wasn't feeling so well. So he missed all of his Thursday activities with the media and usually with his team. But it didn't work out to be too much of a problem for him in the end because with the late start in Saudi Arabia due to the night race, he basically could catch up with his team Friday morning when he was feeling much better. And yes, as you said about the Friday practice, he topped both sessions so I don't think he was feeling too unwell given the circumstances. And if people are watching the highlights or our listeners end up watching some of today or over the weekend, they'll pick up on some track changes. No, it changed from 21 to 22. Some people are saying that when we first saw it in 2021, this track was downright dangerous with very little runoff area, driving next to the walls, the highest speed circuit in the world. And because of the fast sweeping curvy nature of it, no sightlines, so you could come around the corner and just come across a car. That changed from year one to year two, what's happened as we go back to Saudi Arabia with the track changes. Yeah, that's right. So it is pretty much more of the same in broad strokes, but predominantly it's moving walls back from certain areas of the track. So turn for, for example, walls be moved back by 7 and a half meters, and it turned 20 5 meters. Just to provide a bit more runoff, obviously, and having the walls less so encompassing. Some of the banking and the kerbs have been changed, partly for either grip levels or sight lines, as you mentioned earlier. All in the name of making the circuit safer, I think it's probably given because of the high speed nature of the track is probably the most dangerous track on the F one calendar currently, we're sort of seeing how Vega shapes up in fairness later this year because no one really knows what that looks like in reality. The combination of that high speed blind corners and what particularly in practice and what we're seeing qualifying tomorrow is, yeah, you have cars going on the slow laps building up their tire temperatures, et cetera and those already on push laps, which is obviously not what you have on during the race situation. So you have cars going slower that will either be on the racing line, which is generally narrow or off it just close to it with cars coming up behind them. And there was as it's been the case for every year since we've been Saudi Arabia, countless incidents of drivers race engineers speakers of saying, well, watch out for another driver behind you approaching fast and sometimes the message doesn't come across quickly enough and you have a lot of near misses. Thankfully, we have, I don't think we've ever really had a proper or any sort of incident. There's been plenty of near misses, but no sort of clashes and certainly there were none today, but you do sort of feel that there's only probably a matter of time before something like that happens. But the other problem is how do you avoid it? How do you solve it? The only real suggestion that that would sort of permanently do it is have a minimum lap time that all drivers must adhere to and keep that high enough where you don't have those great differences in speed between a car on a qualifying lap and a car on a preparation. And I was watching the formula two practice this morning while I was just sort of doing some other jobs. I'm not glued to F two practice week in week out. I love motor sport, but you know I had it on whilst I was also doing some other stuff, but there was a red flag at the end of that. I think from memory, it was called deal. Who spun. Coming out of 13. A sort of a snap oversteer moment. Spun it, ended up sideways on the track, and of course the yellow flags came out, and I think I don't know who was coming up just behind, maybe one of the primers or something. But quick thinking, but on a different day, that could have easily been, he put his hands up, instinctively, to the side of his helmet. That could easily have been a T bone incident. And it wasn't.