On the track called Jeddah Corniche, overlooking the waterfront of the Saudi city, Max Verstappen is on the hunt for his first world title in Formula 1. To do so already in Saudi Arabia he must expand the advantage he has over Lewis Hamilton from eight to at least 26 points.
Which means collecting 18 points more than English.
Not easy on a track that seems designed to favor the Mercedes' higher top speed.
Citizen yes, but with peculiar characteristics.
Twenty-seven curves, but almost all with a round radius and wide open gas mileage.
And in fact Lewis Hamilton set the best time in both free practices on Friday, albeit with a small advantage. The result of the second was particularly significant, which took place with artificial lighting, ie in the conditions of tomorrow's qualifying and Sunday's race.
In the morning Hamilton stopped the clock with a time of 1'29 "786, beating the Dutchman by 56 thousandths and his teammate Valtteri Bottas by 223. After sunset the English champion did it again: 1'29" 018 ( with yellow rubber), 61 thousandths better than Bottas and 81 by Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri).
Only fourth Verstappen, behind by 195 thousandths.
Following the Alpines of Fernando Alonso (+0.423) and Esteban Ocon (+0.537). Carlos Sainz's Ferrari seventh (+0.571), Yuki Tsunoda's AlphaTauri eighth (+0.579), Sergio Perez's Red Bull ninth (+0.750). 10th Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque gave the Ferrari mechanics a night's work by closing the session against the wall after losing the rear.
Driver unharmed, albeit embittered, but very damaged car number 16. Disassembly began immediately in the garage to check the conditions of the chassis, gearbox and engine.
The accident forced the marshals to display the red flag and the tests ended a few minutes early.
On a narrow track, with few escape routes and where the traffic of the preceding cars makes life difficult for those looking for a single lap time, such scenes are likely to repeat themselves.
Half an hour from the end of the second free practice, almost everyone has mounted the tires with yellow or red bands to look for the best simulation of qualifying and race pace.
The most likely strategy for Sunday oscillates between soft and medium tires, given that the characteristics of the track would allow them both without notable differences.