Saudi Arabia Grand Prix Race Summary
Max Verstappen won an exhilarating but tight race with Charles Leclerc to secure his first victory of the Grand Prix season in Saudi Arabia.
The Dutch driver was able to pass Leclerc with four laps to go after the two racers competed against each other for much of the race.
It was a tactical battle where at times they tried to work DRS overtaking zones to their advantage during slow points on the track but Verstappen managed to make it work and won by 0.5 seconds after making the crucial move.
The front two drivers were a world apart from the other competitors as Carlos Sainz of the Ferrari team and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez finished in third and fourth.
For the Mercedes team, George Russell finished in fifth ahead of Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris.
Lewis Hamilton managed to finish in 10th after starting 15th of the grid.
Even though it was an exciting race for the neutrals, the senior figures and drivers would have been troubled by the missile strikes on Friday at a local oil depot. It may have proved to be an uncomfortable three days for everyone involved in the race.
Verstappen Back On Top
It already looks like it could be a two horse-race for the main title between Verstappen and Leclerc, just like last year when the Dutchman competed against Hamilton.
From the early rounds, Perez lead the way but Leclerc passed him after Verstappen and Perez went into the pitstop.
The Ferrari team aimed to run the cars for a longer period of time so that they could gain some ground as they knew Leclerc has the extra pace.
However, some events on the track helped Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz gain a free stop as Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams which bought out the safety car for the next lap. This dropped Perez down to fourth where he would remain until the end of the race.
The Frenchman started brilliantly on the restart and remained in the lead as The Red Bull driver trailed him.
But once again, a virtual safety car had to be issued with 12 laps to go as Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren and Fernando Alonso’s Alphine slowed down to a halt on the track near pit stop entry.
Verstappen was then right behind Leclerc on the restart and wouldn’t let him out of his sight.
Leclerc tried to use the same tactics as his first race and let Verstappen pass him at the end of one DRS overtaking Zone so that he could use his boost from the DRS down the straight before Turn One.
That maneuverer worked at the end of lap 42 leading into lap 43 which helped Leclerc get the fastest lap time.
On the next lap, both the drivers managed to lock their tyres as they braked hard into the last corner but the Red Bull driver was never backing down from the challenge.
Leclerc lost a little time at the end of lap 45 as he made an error leading into the last corner and in lap 46 were close together into the last corner.
Verstappen remained aggressive on the track as Leclerc took a slow exit round a corner on the penultimate lap. The Red Bull driver used his DRS to get past him on the final straight and remained in front to secure his first victory of the tour.
Rest of the Track
Perez was unlucky to lose out of the top two positions due to the safety car events but it was suggested that he might not have had the pace to hold Leclerc so the Red Bull would have ordered him to let Verstappen pass him if he was behind.
Sainz managed to slip past Perez to secure the third-place finish while Mercedes George Russell finished comfortably in fifth without even challenging the leaders.
Hamilton could have potentially finished sixth or seventh had everything gone to plan.
However, there was a period where he lost six seconds after he didn’t know whether he could pass Alonso’s slowly moving car as the double yellow flags were waved. He also wasn’t able to pit for two laps until the virtual safety car ended so he lost a bit of time there.
The pit stop dropped him down to 12th but in the final stages of the race, he managed to pass a few cars to finish in 10th.
Williams Racing Performance
Both Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi were forced to retire from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and did not finish the race.
Albon started on the medium Pirelli tyres in 16th and made one pit stop before contact with Lance Stroll ended his race on lap 47.
Latifi started in 18th and retired from the Grand Prix following a crash on lap 14.
What they said:
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance:
A very frustrating end to three weeks away from home for the team. We completed a one-stop race with Alex using the preferred hard tyre for most of the race. Alex did well to manage his tyres during a long stint and through several safety car periods. There was a lot of attrition at this event, which we were expecting, and Alex was nearly able to benefit. He was able to race with Stroll and attack him on several occasions into Turn 1, but unfortunately in racing for 11th, there was contact, resulting in a front right puncture for Alex and the end of his race.
The mechanics did an excellent job to repair Nicholas’ car overnight, but unfortunately Nicholas had a difficult race and lost the car at the final corner shortly before he was due to make his first stop.
We were trying to fight our way into the points at the end and I went for the move with Lance. He made a strong defence and unfortunately, we made contact. We had to retire due to the puncture, but the points were almost there, and we had to go for it. We were lacking downforce and the balance with the car can be tricky but when it’s in the window it’s actually a decent car. At the end of the race we were pretty quick, it’s just about trying to make the car more consistent and predictable.
Unfortunately, I lost the rear going down to the final corner and that ended my race. I took the same line as I have across the weekend, so it was unexpected but obviously both disappointing and frustrating. I made some costly mistakes this weekend, so it’s an event to learn from for me. I’ll go away and reset for Australia.
Saudi Arabia Grand Prix Results
|Track: Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Saudi Arabia||Weather: Warm & dry conditions|
|Lap Length: 6.174 km||Temperature: Air: 25°C Track: 27-29°C|
|Pos||Driver||Team||Time/Gap (Fastest Lap)||Grid||Tyre Changes|
|Pos||Driver||Team||Time/Gap (Fastest Lap)||Grid||Tyre Changes|
|1.||M. Verstappen||Oracle Red Bull Racing||1:24:19.293|
|2.||C. Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari||+ 0.549|
|3.||C. Sainz||Scuderia Ferrari||+ 8.097|
|DNF||A. Albon||Williams Racing||–||16||1 (13)|
|DNF||N. Latifi||Williams Racing||–||18||–|
2022 FIA Formula One World Championship Schedule
|1||20-Mar-22||Bahrain Grand Prix||Bahrain IC, Sakhir|
|2||27-Mar-22||Saudi Arabia Grand Prix||Jeddah Street Circuit, Jeddah|
|3||10-Apr-22||Australian Grand Prix||Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne|
|4||24-Apr-22||Emilia Romagna Grand Prix||Imola|
|5||08-May-22||Miami Grand Prix||Miami International Autodrome, Miami|
|6||22-May-22||Spanish Grand Prix||Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona|
|7||29-May-22||Monaco Grand Prix||Monte Carlo, Monaco|
|8||12-Jun-22||Azerbaijan Grand Prix||Baku City Circuit, Baku|
|9||19-Jun-22||Canadian Grand Prix||Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal|
|10||03-Jul-22||British Grand Prix||Silverstone|
|11||10-Jul-22||Austrian Grand Prix||Red Bull Ring, Spielberg|
|12||24-Jul-22||French Grand Prix||Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet|
|13||31-Jul-22||Hungarian Grand Prix||Hungaroring, Mogyorod|
|14||28-Aug-22||Belgian Grand Prix||Spa-Francorchamps, Francorchamps|
|15||04-Sep-22||Dutch Grand Prix||Zandvoort|
|16||11-Sep-22||Italian Grand Prix||Monza|
|17||02-Oct-22||Singapore Grand Prix||Marina Bay, Singapore|
|18||09-Oct-22||Japanese Grand Prix||Suzuka|
|19||23-Oct-22||United States Grand Prix||Circuit of the Americas, Austin|
|20||30-Oct-22||Mexican Grand Prix||Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City|
|21||13-Nov-22||Brazilian Grand Prix||Interlagos, Sao Paulo|
|22||20-Nov-22||Abu Dhabi Grand Prix||Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi|