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Hamilton edges Verstappen in Saudi Arabia GP's first practice

Lewis Hamilton drew first blood in the Saudi Arabian chapter of his fight against Max Verstappen for the Formula 1 world championship, topping the first practice session of the weekend.

The brand new Jeddah Corniche Circuit had its first run with F1 cars, as average speeds went comfortably over 150mph. There were questions about who would be fastest between Mercedes and Red Bull and those questions remain, as only 0.056 seconds separated the two rivals.

Valtteri Bottas backed up his teammate in fine style in third, hoping for a good start in what will be his 100th race for Mercedes on Sunday. He will finish on 101 races for the German team before he leaves for Alfa Romeo in 2022.

Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez found the going a little trickier, ending the session down in 11th.

Pierre Gasly meanwhile kept his exceptional run of form going in fourth for AlphaTauri. The Frenchman started the previous race in Qatar on the front row, before he fell down the order after a poor strategy call.

Traffic in Jeddah

Many found traffic a problem, with the Jeddah circuit's fast and blind entry corners meaning those backing off struggled to stay out of the way fast-approaching cars behind.

That wasn't a problem, though, for Antonio Giovinazzi who was an impressive fifth for Alfa Romeo. The Italian only arrived late on Thursday after driving in the Formula E test in Valencia earlier in the week, but hit the ground rinning.

Ferrari came next with Carlos Sainz again edging out Charles Leclerc by less than half a 10th, while Daniel Ricciardo led the McLaren charge in eighth, as Lando Norris was only 13th.

Fernando Alonso was ninth - on hard tyres, while the rest of the top 10 set their fastest laps on softs - after his podium in Qatar last time out, while Sebastian Vettel completed the top 10.

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