Saudi Grand Prix: Verstappen two down 22 to go, Bearman shines

Saudi Grand Prix: Verstappen two down 22 to go, Bearman shines

Saudi Grand Prix: Verstappen two down 22 to go, Bearman shines

Max Verstappen powered to another easy victory, winning the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez keeping him honest, for a second one-two in a row this year for the World Champions, followed home Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc in P3.

It was Verstappen’s 56th F1 victory, and his ninth in a row counting last season. It was also his 100th podium after a race which he won in commanding style. Always comfortable, always with extra pace in hand.

The win also means Red Bull have surpassed Williams with their 115th F1 victory today in Jeddah. Only behind Mercedes (125), McLaren (183) and Ferrari (243).

Last year he finished second to Perez in Saudi, this year Verstappen exacted ‘revenge’ to win. This is what he said afterwards: “Overall, a fantastic weekend for the whole team and myself. I felt really good with the car and it was the same in the race.”

Perez said of his race: “We definitely made some good progress. I just think it was a shame we qualified out of the front row because we had a great start. Unfortunately, Charles really kept it together and we couldn’t get through. It was a nice fight.”

Best of the Rest, Ferrari was no match for the Red Bulls

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 09: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing (second from right), Second placed Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing (second from left), Third placed Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari (R) and Jerome Lafarge, Chief Designer at Oracle Red Bull Racing (L) celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 09, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Leclerc was happy with his first podium of the season. The Ferrari was no match for the Red Bulls ahead but easily better than the rest of the pack. The result suggests the Reds are in ‘no-man’s-land’ in the pecking order. Chasing the World Champs and being chased by the rest.

In parc ferme, Leclerc reported: “From last year it’s a step better. I don’t know why. Maybe because I was on my own , so had less adrenaline in the car. All in all it’s definitely one of the most physical race tracks of the season. There are so many high-speed corners which are very difficult but it’s also fun to drive.”

Star of the otherwise mundane tale of dominance by Red Bull, Oliver Bearman – subbing for sidelined Carlos Sainz – shone brightly on the night, scoring points with P7 on his F1 debut. It was a dream debut for the 18-year-old and deserved Driver of the Day.

Behind the podium trio, Oscar Piastri drove a solid race to claim P4 for McLaren, fending off Asron Marins Fernando Alonso who finished P5. He was followed by Mercedes driver George Russell and the abovementioned sensational Bearman.

Stroll crashed to trigger the one and only Safety Car

Stroll crashed to trigger the one and only Safety Car

In the other McLaren, Lando Norris chased the younger Briton hard after going long with his strategy, neglecting to stop when a Safety Car was triggered by Lance Stroll’s self-induced crash in the Aston Martin.

Norris ended P8 with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton P9 and large in his mirrors for much of the final stint when they pitted late for the Pirelli Softs.

Nico Hulkenberg bagged the final point for P10 in the Haas after a smart team effort, which saw Kevin Magnussen netting two penalties from the busy (see report below) FIA Race Stewards as he kept back a chasing posse.

Image

Out of the points at the Saudi GP:

  • Another woeful weekend for Alpine with Esteban Ocon P13 and Pierre Gasly a DNF, after issues onto the grid.
  • VCARBs Yuki Tsunoda was in the wars to finish p14, tail end of a heated battle for one point in P10, which Hulkenberg got.
  • In the other VCARB, Daniel Ricciardo was abysmal, spinning on his way to 16th while Liam Lawson watched the sad show from the sidelines.
  • Sauber was ‘shamateurish’ again with Valletteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou P17 and P18. The Chinese driver suffering at the hands of his clumsy pit crew.
  • At Williams, Alex Albon tried his best with what he had, Also involved in the battle for P10 only to miss out by one place. Teammate Logan Sargeant finished down in P15 after an anonymous evening in nowhere land.

Round 3 of the 2024 Formula 1 World Championship takes place on 24 March, the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne.

2024 Saudi Grand Prix Result

2024 Saudi Grand Prix Result graphic

How the 2024 Saudi Grand Prix Unfolded:

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 leads Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-24 and the rest of the field into the first corner at the start of the race during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Gasly had issues getting at the start as woe mounted on Alpine. He got to the start but was told to park the car shortly after the start. The first retirement of the 2024 season.

Norris made a dodgy start. He was investigated but no further action was taken.

Verstappen gets a great start, with Perez really challenging Leclerc into Turn 1 and through the early sweeps before Leclerc maintained P2.

Behind the top three, Piastri squeezed past Alonso to take P4, suggesting the Aston Martin was better in Qualy than the race. The only other change in the top ten was Stroll up to P9 and Tsunoda down a spot.

On Lap 4, Perez was past Leclerc, the Red Bulls now one-two, with Verstappen 2.4 seconds ahead and setting the fastest laps.

The accident Mika Hakkinen predicted in his preview of Jeddah was spot on, on Lap 7 a safety car was called after Stroll’s Aston Martin clattered into the walls at Turn 22, double hit breaking plenty of bits on the AMR2.

Safety Car meant a very busy pit lane and some close calls

Image

That triggered a flurry of pit stops and a hecticly busy pitlane. Perez into the path of Alonso was as close as it got and was investigated by FIA Race Stewards. He later got a 5-second penalty for the incident. Norris remained out behind the Safety Car and leading as Verstappen, with fresh rubber, on his tail.

Hamilton also did not stop and found himself in third. Hulkenberg (P8) and Zhou (P10) stayed out too.

The restart saw Norris get a good getaway, with Verstappen tucked behind him, Hamilton the buffer to Perez in P4 and Leclerc behind the Red Bull. Alonso was down to P7 chasing Piastri.

On lap 12, Verstappen was back i the lead as he got by Norris. Perez followed to take P3 from Hamilton, meaning the Red Bulls were in effect one-and-two again. Verstappen was 3.7s ahead of his teammate.

Leclerc got by Hamilton on Lap 15, the Ferrari driver into P4 on track but P3 overall and a couple seconds behind Perez just as Stewards announced the unsafe release 5-second penalty. Shortly after Magnussen was handed a 10s penalty for causing a collision with Albon.

The Haas veteran got another 10-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage in a battle with Tsunoda. At the same time, Piastri was chasing Hamilton for P5, while Leclerc honed in on Norris.

Bearman shone bright on his short-notice F1 debut

Bearman shone bright on his short-notice F1 debut ferrari

Notably, rookie Bearman was in P9 on Lap 20, the British teenager shining bright doing away with Tsunoda, and a good battle with veteran Hulkenberg for P9. The Ferrari getting past on Lap 22.

At this point, Verstappen led Perez by six seconds. Non-stopper Norris was up next with Leclerc four seconds behind the second Red Bull driver.

Piastri had P5 and Hamilton in his sights. And that’s how it stayed for a dozen laps, the McLaren quicker but the Mercedes more stubborn without having stopped at the halfway mark.

On lap 25, midway Verstappen led by seven seconds to Perez in P2 and, a further eight seconds back, Leclerc was in P3 after getting past Norris who was still on the tyres he started with.

The battle for one point was at its most intense on Lap 30. Hulkenberg chased by the fiercely battling quintet of Zhou, Ocon, Magnussen, Tsunoda and Alnon swapping places.

K-Mag was in uber-defensive mode allowing Hulkenberg to edge ahead while a train formed behind the Haas.

At the sharp end, Verstappen was in fastest laps mode and duly delivered

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 09: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 09, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Hulkenberg pitted for the first time on lap 35. Just then Piastri and Hamilton were closer than ever, the McLaren had a look but overshot as the Mercedes shut him off.

Hamilton was called in on Lap 36 for his first stop, with Softs tyres bolted on. Norris was in a lap later and also emerged with Softs.

The top six were all on ageing Hards, with Notrris (P8) and Hamilton (P9) on the Softs, the latter setting the fastest lap as the pair were the quickest cars out there at this point.

Lap 40, it was unchanged for the podium spots with Verstappen 8.5 seconds in the lead, Perez in P2 and Leclerc a further 12 seconds back. Piastri a further five seconds down in P4, trailed by four seconds by Alonso and Russell 1.2 seconds behind the Aston Martin.

Bearman was still going strong in P7, six seconds down on Russell, and Norris catching four seconds adrift.

Sauber messed up a pit stop for a second week in a row

Image

His team compromised Zhou’s race when he came in after an ultra-long stint for Softs only to be badly serviced. Emerging last behind Sauber teammate Bottas.

In contrast, Bearman responded to Norris and Hamilton chasing him with softer and fresher tyres. It was an outstanding performance by the rookie, finding strong pace when he needed it. Not bucking to pressure.

With five to go the the lead was pegged at eight seconds. Behind him, it was a stalemate, except for Hamilton harassing Norris but to no avail.

Verstappen won the fourth edition of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix by 13.6 seconds, with Perez five seconds ahead of Leclerc. The gap between the winning Red Bull and the next best, Ferrari, was 18.6 seconds.


Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Preview: What can stop Verstappen?

2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix F1 grid graphic qualifying jeddah

The question is no longer who can stop Max Verstappen? But rather what can stop the Red Bull ace from romping to victory in tonight’s fourth Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah?

The 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix report will replace this preview at the end of the race. Please refresh this page for updated version. Enjoy the race!

Who can beat Max? No one. Not a single driver has the package and pace to match Verstappen. Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez has struggled and was again the usual three-tenths slower than the #1 car in Saudi Qualifying to finish P3. But the pair will line up nose to tail on tonight’s grid.

Expect them to lock this one out with a one-two as they did last year, and did in Bahrain last week. Anything less than a one-two for the World Champs will be disappointing, such is the advantage they have, Much like last year, if not a little more in the benchmark raising RB20.

With no one capable of stopping Verstappen. What can? Force Majeure of course, things out of his control, For example, an errant pit call, a pitstop fumble, something breaks or an incident. Before the race in high-speed Jeddah, F1 double World Champ Mika Hakkinen predicted “Safety Cars and accidents” tonight. We sincerely hope not the latter.

Bearman becomes the 776th F1 driver to start a Grand Prix

bearman ferrari f1

P2 on the front row next to Max, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc will take the fight to the Bulls, with Carlos Sainz sidelined with appendicitis, which gave 18-year-old Briton Oliver Bearman his F1 debut. The teenager gave an excellent account of himself with less than an hour in the car, he nearly beat Lewis Hamilton into Q3. Think about that…

Bearman will be F1’s 776th driver and the 112th driver to don the Red Ferrari in the top flight. He is in for a baptism of fire, in the thick of a very tight midfield, P11 for his first Grand Prix.

Good old Fernando Alonso. Give the Spaniard a half-decent car and he can make magic happen as he did on Friday to claim P3 on the grid for his 380th GP start. On that note, an incredible stat is that the 42-year-old Spaniard won his home race in Barcelona on 8 May 2005, the day Bearman was born.

It’s more youngsters behind the Perez-Alonso veteran front row, with the McLaren duo Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri lining up P5 and P6, which is a sure recipe for possible Turn 1 mayhem and very ‘fun’ first lap.

The next row is all Silver & Black with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton struggling with their bouncing Mercedes. And possibly their race pace is worse than what they have in the bag for Qualy. This could be a painful night for the German team.

Saudi Arabian GP Qualifying Top Three press conference

What else to watch out for at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix:

  • Go Alex!
  • Yuki blitzed Daniel again. Civil war over? Really…
  • Anyone see Lance? Sauber? Haas?
  • Alpine to finish last and second last?
  • Logan to bin it first… Just watch!

Reuters Stats & Facts: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Jeddah-Corniche-Circuit-2-2024 f1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix gp

  • Jeddah Corniche Circuit
  • Round of the 24-race 2024 Formula 1 World Championship season:
  • Lap distance: 6.174km. Total distance: 308.450km (50 laps)
  • 2023 winner: Sergio Perez (Mexico), Red Bull
  • 2023 pole: Perez, one minute 28.265 seconds.
  • 2023 fastest race lap: Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull 1:31.906
  • Lap record: 1:30.734 seconds (Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2021)
  • Start time: 1700 GMT (2000 local)
  • The night race in Jeddah made its debut on the calendar in December 2021, with seven-times world champion Hamilton winning for Mercedes from pole.
  • Verstappen won from fourth on the grid in 2022, Perez from pole in 2023. Red Bull are now going for their third Saudi win in a row.
  • Verstappen is the only driver to have been on the podium in every race in Jeddah, finishing second last year after starting 15th due to a driveshaft failure in qualifying.
  • Perez has been on pole twice in Jeddah, including his first ever in Formula One in 2022, and is chasing a hat-trick this year. He has led more laps at the circuit than anyone else.
  • The 27-turn Corniche layout is the second longest on the calendar, some 800 metres shorter than Belgium’s Spa, and the fastest street circuit. It runs along the shores of the Red Sea.
  • The safety car was deployed in all three previous races.

2024 f1 standings after bahrain

2024 F1 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

  • Verstappen has led the championship for a record 40 successive races dating back to Spain in May 2022.
  • He is eight points clear of Perez after one race.

RACE WINS & POLES, PODIUMS

  • Seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has a record 103 career victories from 333 starts but is chasing his first since 2021 — a run of 46 races without a win.
  • Red Bull won 21 of 22 races last year, with Verstappen victorious in a record 19, and have won 32 of the last 34.
  • Verstappen has won 55 grands prix and is third on the all-time list. Michael Schumacher is second on 91.
  • Verstappen has won the last eight races. He won a record 10 in a row during the course of last season.
  • Hamilton has a record 104 career poles, his most recent in Hungary last year.
  • Verstappen can take his 100th career podium on Saturday.
  • The champion set a record of 21 podiums in a season last year but Michael Schumacher remains the only driver to have stood on the podium in every race of a season (2002).

BEARMAN Oliver, Scuderia Ferrari SF-24, portrait during the Formula 1 STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2024, 2nd round of the 2024 Formula One World Championship from March 7 to 9, 2024 on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - Photo Antonin Vincent / DPPI

MILESTONES

  • Red Bull can go ahead of Williams in solo fourth place in the all-time list of winners with 115.
  • Hamilton’s seventh place in Bahrain meant he had scored points in 18 successive seasons, a record for the sport.
  • Teenager Oliver Bearman, subbing for Carlos Sainz, will be Formula 1’s 776th driver and Ferrari’s youngest-ever rookie.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: What can stop Verstappen?