Explosion causes a scare, Leclerc was the fastest

An explosion at a nearby oil depot, apparently the product of a rebel attack, did not prevent the first practices for the Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from taking place on Friday and Frenchman Charles Leclerc being the fastest in both sessions. .

Leclerc’s Ferrari, winner last Sunday of the Bahrain Grand Prix, the first race of the season, beat second-placed Max Verstappen by 0.116 seconds in the morning and by 1.4 seconds in the afternoon.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton struggled with his Mercedes and finished ninth in the morning and fifth in the afternoon session.

Tests continued despite the explosion, which produced a plume of smoke that an AP photographer could see from the runway, located 7 miles (11 kilometers) from the site of the depot.

Race directors said the test will run as scheduled on Sunday.

Yemeni Houthi rebels say they have launched attacks in Saudi Arabia.

The afternoon session was delayed by 15 minutes, during which team delegates, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and the president of the International Automobile Federation Mohammed met in Sulayem, where it was decided to go ahead with testing and with the race.

The promoters of the event, the Saudi Motorsport Company, said in a statement that “the race will take place as planned. We are in direct contact with the authorities, pending the safety” of the teams and the public.

Apparently the warehouse attacked is the same one that was already the target of another Houthi attack a few days ago.

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