F1 champion Hamilton leads 1st practice for Saudi Arabian GP


JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP)Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time Friday in the first practice for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The British veteran was 0.056 seconds ahead of championship leader Max Verstappen of Red Bull and 0.223 ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Verstappen led for the first forty minutes of the hour-long session on the 6.2-kilometer (3.8-mile) street circuit, which sits on a 30-kilometer (18.6-mile) coastal resort area in Jeddah.

Hamilton initially struggled to adapt to the track while Verstappen twice improved his best time before Hamilton found some extra speed.

A second practice session was scheduled for later in the day.

Verstappen leads Hamilton by eight points – with nine wins to seven – in a closely fought duel that will see a champion crowned next weekend in Abu Dhabi.

More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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