The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes
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The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes

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Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton...

The chasing car had been the clear pacesetter in practice. It was a scrap between the two best packages of the season – well ahead of the chasing pack – with the drivers that would top the standings at the season’s end duelling for the win on a track set back just a few metres from the seafront.

The leader was under race-long pressure. He had a reputation from earlier in his career as being hot-headed and volatile – but he’d honed his reactions when it really mattered, even if the fury was never far from the surface. He had to place his car perfectly at the few potential passing spots. If he did, an important victory was his to lose.

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