It was Max Verstappen who had the upper hand in first practice around a radically reprofiled Yas Marina. However, Mercedes looked stronger in the evening session.
Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton early on in first practice and the Mercedes was unable to find an answer to the Red Bull during soft tyre runs. Honda-powered cars made up four of the top six and AlphaTauri looked to have the pace to by top of the midfield.
By the later session, though, Mercedes were quickest on medium tyre runs and after cars had gone on qualifying simulation runs it was Esteban Ocon’s Alpine that was fastest of all.
We have a copy of F1 2021 to be won every grand prix weekend for the rest of this year. The RaceFans F1 Predictions Championship is free to enter. You will need a RaceFans account to place so sign up here if you haven’t got one.
Enter your predictions for each race using the form below, and scroll down for more information on the prizes and the rules.
Saudi Arabia Grand Prix winners
Congratulations to our penultimate prize-winners of 2021. @Nobby777 claimed the top score at the Jeddah round with 31 points and wins a copy of F1 2021. Second place went to @Lashlake with 29 points, and they are the latest winner of a BoxBoxBox F1 calendar tea towel.
Make your predictions
The top scorer over the 2022 RaceFans F1 Predictions Championship will be rewarded with an enviable upgrade to their simracing system.
Fanatec have supplied a direct drive racing set-up. Using the new Gran Turismo DD Pro wheel base, which puts out a whopping 8Nm of torque, you'll feel the road like never before. It's compatible with PlayStation, Xbox and PC systems.
Your direct drive system will be topped off with a Fanatec Clubsport Steering Wheel F1 Esports V2 and a Fanatec CSL pedals set.
And to ensure you get the most out of your new hardware lap after lap, and race in comfort as well as style, NextLevel Racing will prove an R-GT Formula and GT Simulator Cockpit.
While only one player will claim that prize, we'll also award the top two players in the competition each weekend. Codemasters will provide a copy of F1 2021 for the top scorer each weekend, and the runner up will claim a F1 track signs tea towel set courtesy of BoxBoxBox.
Grand Prize: Direct drive simracing kit
Gran Turismo DD Pro Wheel Base, Clubsport Steering Wheel F1 Esports V2 and CSL PedalsSupplied by Fanatec
Simracing hardware experts Fanatec are offering this highly desirable direct drive simracing kit for the player who achieves the top score in the championship this year.
The Gran Turismo DD Pro Wheel Base introduces next-generation force-feedback technology to the mass market: Direct drive.
By mounting the steering wheel directly to the motor shaft, the need for belt or gear drives connect the two is removed, which means the force feedback effects are not dampened or softened.
As official supplier to Formula 1's Esports series, Fanatec has created the Clubsport Steering Wheel F1 Esports V2 with the clear aim of driving F1 cars at the limit. The second version of this wheel includes magnetic gear shifters, customisable RGB LEDs, revised electronics, and an exchangeable quick release system.
You'll need to be able to stop and go as well, so Fanatec have included their CSL pedals for unrivalled braking accuracy and feel.
F-GT simulator cockpitSupplied by Next Level
The F-GT from NextLevel allows you to configure and mount your driving equipment to simulate a single-seater formula or GT-style car. The same model was used by the Real Esport team to win the GTR Endurance eRacing World Championship.
It's designed to handle high-end direct drive wheels and includes a sliding seat and lumbar support for adjustability and comfort. The cockpit includes both the frame and seat.
Race weekend prizes
F1 2021: The official gameSupplied by Codemasters
At every round of the championship the top-scoring player will win F1 2021, the latest edition of the official Formula 1 game published by Codemasters, for their choice of platform.
As well as including all the teams and drivers from the new season, F1 2021 introduces Codemasters' new 'Braking Point' storyline mode, which brings narradrive-driven racing back to the series. 'Braking Point' blends on-track action with off-track drama set in the world championship paddock.
F1 2021 also epxands on the features from previous games, including the popular My Team mode as well as Career. Real Season Start allows you to jump into the game at the same stage as the real world championship standings.
Track signs tea towel gift setSupplied by BoxBoxBox
The runner-up player in every race weekend will also win a prize courtesy of our friends at BoxBoxBox.
Every race track in the world features these familiar signs white signs with bold numbers on them. Designed to show the distance to the corner and help racing drivers pick their braking point – we thought they’d make a great Tea Towel Gift Set.
The tea towels are screen printed on 100% organic cotton, and BoxBoxBox will send you a set of two worth £22.99.
Rules and how to enter
You have until the scheduled start time for qualifying on Saturday to make your predictions for each round. Reminders will be posted during the weekend on RaceFans, the RaceFans Twitter account and RaceFans Facebook page.
To enter, predict the pole sitter and the top five finishers in the race. You can also enter a prediction for the pole position lap time which this will be used in the event of a points tie between prize-winners.
Enter your pole position lap time prediction in the following format: MM:SS.ccc For example, for a lap of one minute, 23.450 seconds you would enter 01:23.450
You must log in using a RaceFans account to make a prediction. Registration is free and quick:
After submitting your prediction you will receive an email confirming your entry. If this does not happen, or you are concerned your prediction has not been received, please get in touch using the contact form.
Competition terms and conditions
1. Maximum one entry per household.
2. The competition is not open to employees, friends or family of RaceFans or any prize suppliers.
3. In each round players are invited to predict (a) who will be on pole position and (b) what the top five finishers will be (five different drivers) and will accumulate points in each round as follows up to a maximum score of 50:
a. Correctly naming the pole winner for the sprint qualifying race if one is held, or the grand prix if no sprint qualifying race is held: 2 points
b. Correctly naming one/two/three/four/five driver/s who finish in the top five of the grand prix: 1/2/3/5/8 points
c. Correctly predicting where one/two/three/four/five driver/s finish in the grand prix: 2/6/14/24/40 points
4. The results will be take from the appropriate final classification documents for each round as issued by the FIA
5. Whoever scores the most points in every race counting towards the championship will win the grand prize, if one is offered.
6. In the event of a tie on points the winner will be determined by who is closest to predicting the pole position lap time set in qualifying correctly. If that fails to produce a winner the editor will choose a means of deciding who has won
7. Predictions must be entered using the entry form. If you experience difficulties submitting your entry via the predictions form please enter your prediction using the contact form. Predictions will not be accepted via any other means of communication.
8. In the event of a dispute the editor's decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.
9. No cash alternative is offered for any of the prizes.
10. Players who have won prizes will be notified by email within 14 days of the winners being announced, so they can select their prize options and supply a postal address. Once this has been done prize delivery may take up to 28 days.
11. For further information see the disclaimer