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Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco steers his car during the Formula One Grand Prix it in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: AP

Jeddah: Charles Leclerc posted the fastest time ahead of world champion Max Verstappen in the first practice session for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix today.

The Ferrari driver moved to the top near the end and was .116 seconds faster than Verstappen for Red Bull.

Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas was third fastest on the 6.2-kilometer (3.8-mile) Jeddah Corniche Circuit and was .312 seconds behind Leclerc. Carlos Sainz Jr. was fourth best for Ferrari.

But Mercedes struggled again with the weight of its car. Seven-time Lewis Hamilton was ninth quickest and Mercedes teammate George Russell was 15th.

Hydraulic problem

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen came back to the garage after only a few minutes because of a hydraulic problem and did not get back out on track.

The session was briefly interrupted by a red flag after about 20 minutes when McLaren driver Lando Norris clipped the wall heading into Turn 1 and a board fell onto the track.

A second practice session will take place later Friday under floodlights.

Leclerc won last Sunday’s season-opening race in Bahrain, where Verstappen scored no points after retiring near the end of that race.