f1 verstappen leclerc saudi gp

Saudi Grand Prix: Verstappen pips Leclerc after titanic battle

f1 verstappen leclerc saudi gp

Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Round 2 of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship, at Jeddah Circuit, after a titanic battle with Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.

After an orderly and surprisingly hassle-free Saudi Grand Prix start. At the front, Sergio Perez led from pole, with Leclerc in pursuit and Verstappen getting by Carlos Sainz on the opening lap. It remained that way at the front.

On Lap 16, the drama began, when Nicholas Latifi (who should maybe quit F1 before he hurts himself and give a deserving driver a chance) crashed again, his second big shunt this weekend, to bring out the Safety Car and turn the race on its head.

Perez leading by a couple of seconds before he pitted for the hard Pirelli white band hard tyres found himself dropping down to third; sheer bad luck for the Red Bull driver who did not a foot wrong, just a victim of fate.

This gave Leclerc the lead behind the F1 safety car, Verstappen second with Perez and Sainz slugging it out for fourth – the Ferrari and Red Bull almost collided as the latter peeled out of the pits.

The Mexican had been leading by a couple of seconds when he made his stop, coming out of the pits he crossed the pit exit line a car length behind Sainz but took the position ahead of the Ferrari on-track.

Perez was the biggest loser when the safety car came out at the wrong time for him and stole his lead

It was clear what transpired on the replays, but it took race direction until the restart to reshuffle the order and allow Sainz to pass Perez; why not do the swap behind the safety car?

Thus from the restart, Leclerc led with Verstappen stalking doggedly, a little over a second separating the top two.

But again on Lap 37, it all changed again, with Ricciardo’s McLaren and Alonso’s Alpine expiring at the same time. A virtual safety car was called before the field was released with nine to go.

It was LEC v VER reloaded from Bahrain, they threw everything at one another. The Ferrari ultra-quick in the first sector, the Red Bull wicked in the fast stuff.

It was a thrilling ten or so laps, the top guns of the new generation giving it all with F1 cars that can follow one another, with excellent racing as result. Box ticked with this new generation cars.

It was cat-and-mouse, chess, full gas, full send, you name it, all in those final nail-biting laps with Verstappen taking it in the end, a great duel by two great F1 drivers we witnessed under the Saudi night, the respect between these two rivals since their early teens was obvious.

Delighted with his comeback from zero points last Sunday, to the top spot on the podium today, Verstappen said after the race: “It was really tough but a good race. We were battling hard at the front and we just tried to play the long game. They were really quick through the corners and we were really quick on the straight.

“The tyres were wearing out quite quickly around here. You could see at the end, we had a little bit more pace. It wasn’t easy but eventually managed to get ahead. I’m really happy that we’ve finally kick-started the season,” added the reigning F1 World Champion; his title defence is now activated!

Leclerc: Oh my god! I really enjoyed that race, it’s hard racing but fair

The Monegasque was full of praise for his rival and the way the race unfolded: “Every race should be like this. It was fun, I’m of course disappointed, we wanted to win today.

“Respect has always been there, especially when you finish a race like this. We’re on a street track, we’ve been pushing like I’ve rarely pushed before to the absolute limit, and we take risks at the end, so of course, there is respect,” added the Ferrari driver.

Sainz finished third, seven seconds behind the top two, the Spaniard running out of firepower towards the end but did enough to finish ahead of luckless Perez in fourth.

Sainz reported afterwards: “It was a close call with Checo. I think he got a bit unlucky with the safety car but the rules are the rules. I was just ahead at the safety line, it was my position then. From then it was all about holding on to P3.

“The Red Bulls were super quick in the last 10 laps after the tyres cooled down, they were flying and putting pressure on us. For me, this race was a bit of progress from Bahrain. I managed to find a bit more rhythm with the car. There are still some tenth to find but I think I will end up getting there,” added Sainz.

Red Bull and Ferrari are now top of the pecking order in qualy pace and race trim by a margin

Proof of that was that the final ten laps the best Mercedes, of George Russell, was fifth albeit 32 seconds adrift, three seconds per lap was the difference at that point of the race.

Nevertheless, it was a solid performance by Russell, beating his teammate Lewis Hamilton who was out of sorts all weekend, cut in Q1 on Saturday the seven-time F1 World Champion soldiered on with an incredible first stint but no second safety car cost him and he will leave Saudi Arabia with a single point for his tenth place effort.

Esteban was sixth, the Alpine in the wars all race long. Notably, going wheel-to-wheel and gung-ho with veteran teammate Fernando Alonso for a dozen or so hairy laps. Eventually, Ocon was told to hold the station.

With Alonso suffering a DNF, Ocon brought home the goods for the French team with another dogged performance, he takes no prisoners no matter who they may be. Credit to Alpine for allowing their lads to go for it, but one could argue they might’ve overstepped the mark, but then that’s racing: to win you have to fist beat your teammate!

Lando Norris did a good job on a bittersweet day for the Woking outfit. Make that sweetish… because seventh place was a slog and also fortuitous; McLaren are in trouble with their car in its current state.

Also a two-sided day with Yuki Tsunoda not starting with a drivetrain issue, but Pierre Gasly making amends to finish eighth, fending off the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, who like Hamilton had gone very long with the first set of Hard tyres.

Misery for Aston Martin and Williams

It was more misery for Aston Martin – in front of their Saudi backers Aramco – with Nico Hulkenberg and Lance Stroll 11th and 13th, both way off the pace, and last of the cars running. Six cars did not finish the race.

Alfa Romeo were unlucky with Guuanyu Zhou sent a reality check after his impressive debut in Bahrain, a week later it was different story; a race packed with incidents and a penalty to give the rookie food for thought.

Teammate Valtteri Bottas looked sharp all weekend and might have been good for sixth, but it all went south for the Finn with a DNF on the day.

Williams were Williams, dreadful. Latifi was rubbish again (as mentioned) and Alex Albon an off the radar 14th, three laps behind.

Final word to Saudi Grand Prix winning Red Bull team boss Christian Horner: “What a great race. It was an exciting last few laps and thankfully we just had enough to bring it home. It was a very patient race from Max, he looked after the tyres for the end of the race there and then after that last safety car, he really went for it.

“Ferrari have got a great car and great drivers. It was a really tough battle today and that’s what we’re set for when it comes to the rest of the season. It’s going to be, from what we’ve seen in the first few races, epic,” added Horner.


saudi grand prix result pirelli



2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix result

Imagejeddah race result pirelli