Bahrain GP winner Leclerc was fastest in FP1 and under the floodlights in FP2, but he hit the wall at Turn 4 in the latter and was forced to limp back to the pits, ruining his long run.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was second fastest on the day, ahead of the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz.
The big talking point of the day was off the track, however, following the missile attack at the nearby Aramco oil facility.
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix FP1 results: Leclerc fastest from Verstappen
What happened in Saudi Arabian GP Free Practice 1?
First practice took place in daytime, meaning it was not fully representative of either qualifying or the race, both of which will occur in cooler conditions in the evening.
Verstappen set the early pace on, working down to 1m3src.888s on the hard tyres, eight tenths faster than Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri.
A red flag was required after 18 minutes when the 5src-metre board on the approach to Turn 1 worked loose and fell on to the track. It was run over by a series of cars, led by Lando Norris’s McLaren, scattering its remains.
Teams re-emerged on soft rubber, and Leclerc suffered a big slide exiting Turn 14 on his first run, while Verstappen caught traffic on his opener – both bailing out of their laps.
Leclerc then ran again on hards, getting within six tenths of Verstappen’s fastest time. Gasly went P2 on softs, despite brushing the wall, and Verstappen had a big snap of oversteer at Turn 1src that led to a wild moment.
Leclerc improved to src.3src4s off Verstappen on softs, and then eclipsed the world champion with a lap of 1m3src.772s towards the end, which proved the quickest lap of the session.
Verstappen’s hard-tyred lap was good for P2, src.116s slower, with Valtteri Bottas in third for Alfa Romeo, just ahead of the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz.
Gasly and Tsunoda were next up, ahead of Sergio Perez’s Red Bull, Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes, who reported he clipped the wall at Turn 1) and Fernando Alonso (Alpine).
Bahrain hero Kevin Magnussen lost the entire session with a hydraulic problem on his out-lap that required a replacement radiator on his Haas.
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix FP2 results: Leclerc fastest from Verstappen
What happened in Saudi Arabian GP Free Practice 2?
FP2 was delayed by 15 minutes following a meeting between the FIA, teams and drivers to discuss the missile attack at the nearby Aramco oil facility.
From the belated start under the floodlights, Leclerc set the benchmark at 1m3src.216s on medium tyres – already faster than his FP1 time. Sainz was second, src.1src4s in arrears, followed by Verstappen, who was src.335s down.
Verstappen then leapt to the top on 1m3src.214s, just src.srcsrc2 faster than Leclerc. Perez rose to fourth, src.146s down on his teammate.
Teams then switched to soft-tyred runs, Leclerc retaking P1 with 1m3src.src74s – getting traffic late in the lap but benefiting from a big tow from Ocon at the end. Neither Verstappen, Sainz nor Perez improved on softs.
On their long runs, Sainz glanced the wall at Turn 13 and then Leclerc clipped it at Turn 4, damaging his left-front steering arm and ending his day prematurely.
Behind Perez in fourth, Hamilton led teammate George Russell, Norris, Ocon, Bottas and Tsunoda.
Magnussen hit further problems and stopped out on track, ending the day at the bottom of the timesheets.