Max Verstappen reports fire in practice at Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as blaze rages at nearby oil depot

"I smell a bit of a burning feeling," said the F1 world champion

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F1 world champion Max Verstappen reported to his Red Bull team over the radio that he could detect the smoke.

“I smell a bit of a burning feeling,” he said. “I am not sure if it is my car, or another car.”

Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - Red Bull's Max Verstappen during practice
Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - Red Bull's Max Verstappen during practice

His engineer Gianpiero Lambiase replied: “We are happy it is not your car.”

Formula One is awaiting news from the Saudi Arabian authorities after a blaze broke out 12 miles from the Jeddah circuit.

Max Verstappen holding the F1 World Championship aloft.
Max Verstappen holding the F1 World Championship aloft.

Smoke billowed across the track, reportedly from an oil depot, as Hamilton and his fellow F1 drivers took part in the concluding moments of the opening practice session for Sunday’s race.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this stage, but it comes only days after an attack on an oil depot in Jeddah.

Charles Leclerc continued where he left off in Bahrain by posting the fastest time in first practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Five days after winning Formula One’s season opener, Leclerc was back on track and back at the top of the time charts.

Leclerc pipped world champion Max Verstappen by 0.116 seconds, with Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas third.

Lewis Hamilton was only ninth in his Mercedes.