Verstappen wins street fight in Jeddah

Three-time world champion Max Verstappen dominated Formula 1’s 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, leading a Red Bull Racing 1-2 ahead of Sergio Perez, with Charles Leclerc taking third for Ferrari.

An early crash for Lance Stroll meant Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton were a factor in the lead fight after a brief safety car where they stayed out and did not pit, but they eventually finished in the pack behind Ferrari debutant Oliver Bearman.

This was an impressive drive for Ollie as a late replacement to the unwell Carlos Sainz. The Formula 2 driver did a superb job in the Ferrari and to take seventh place is an incredible achievement.

At the start, Verstappen and Leclerc launched in formation from the front row, with the polesitter soon swinging across his rival on the run to Turn 1, where Perez, having got a better start from third, attacked Leclerc.

The Ferrari was behind the Red Bull going into the opening complex but Leclerc fought hard to stay alongside and retook second at Turn 4.

He briefly looked as if he had the pace to keep with Verstappen even without DRS once it was activated on lap two of 50, but although Perez dropped back from Leclerc on that lap as he stayed close enough that the next time by the pit straight he blasted by with DRS to Turn 1.

But before the race could settle down, Stroll crashed his Aston Martin on lap 7 after hitting the inside wall at Turn 22 and going straight on into the barriers outside Turn 23, which meant the safety car was called into action.

All the frontrunners pitted to switch their starting mediums for hards, with Red Bull able to double-stack its cars and maintain track position over Leclerc, who in any case had the longest stop as Oscar Piastri and Fernando Alonso briefly came by.

Due to the having two cars running close together in the pack, McLaren and Mercedes had to leave Norris and Hamilton out at this stage, which meant the former went through to lead Verstappen in the safety car queue, with Hamilton behind and followed by Perez and Leclerc.

The race restarted on lap 10, with Norris running clear up front from Verstappen as the hard tyres took a while to warm up on the Red Bull.

He held out until the start of lap 13, with Verstappen using the DRS to get ahead as the pair flashed by the finish line at the back of the grid, with the champion moving back to first place a formality at Turn 1.

Behind, Perez passed Hamilton at that spot, with Leclerc taking two more laps to do likewise with a battling move on Turn 1’s outside.

As Verstappen shot clear, Perez finally breezed past Norris with DRS down the main straight at the start of lap 18, by which point he was over five seconds behind his teammate and had a five-second time addition for an unsafe release in front of Alonso during the safety car stops phase.

And yet even with the penalty for Checo, the speed of the Red Bull RB20 was fast enough to claim the top two positions at the end.

As the race approached the halfway stage, the two Red Bulls gone in the lead, Norris was able to stay clear of Leclerc, boosted by the race stewards clearing him of a possible jump start.

The McLaren’s mediums continued to slowly fade as Norris fell back from Perez, with Leclerc finally getting back up to third with an easy DRS pass towards Turn 1 at the start of lap 27.

As the race entered its final 20 laps, Verstappen led Perez by 7.3 seconds – a gap he extended to 8.6 seconds in a lifeless end to proceedings, other than the leader losing a little bit of time lapping the backmarkers before pushing hard on the final lap to end the race with a personal best time.

Leclerc, similarly, dropped 8.4 seconds behind Perez by the time he finally repassed Norris, to 9.9 seconds behind at the flag, which meant Perez’s pitlane penalty meant nothing to his result, although Leclerc was able to take the fastest lap bonus point with the fastest lap just 0.1 seconds faster than Verstappen’s effort on the final lap.

Norris finally stopped for soft tyres on lap 37, rejoining after a slightly slow stop due to a delayed right rear change just in front of Hamilton in eighth and ninth – Hamilton having stopped for the same tyre the lap before.

They faced a 6.0 seconds gap to close to Bearman ahead, who had battled by Haas driver in the early stages before running behind George Russell from there.

Hamilton, who had held off Piastri for most of the race before he finally stopped, closed in on Norris and several times looked for a speculative move at Turn 1, where Norris was handed a black-and-white flag warning for weaving in front of Hamilton as the final ten laps kicked off.

They ran out of time to catch Bearman’s seventh place, with the 18-year-old maintaining a 2.7 seconds gap to Norris by the flag.

Piastri ran solo in fourth, with Alonso a chunk behind in fifth and Russell chasing on a similar margin behind the Aston Martin driver.

Nico Hulkenberg scored the final point by staying out under the safety car, then with the twice-penalised Kevin Magnussen holding up the pack behind in the other Haas he was able to stay clear and go on to take P10.

The other retirement was Pierre Gasly, who completed just four laps before stopping in the pits, having reported a gearbox problem ahead of the start.

So a fantastic debut for Ollie Bearman in the Ferrari. To score points in his first appearance in Formula 1 was impressive. He has a bright future in front of him after this solid drive. As for Max Verstappen, as expected the three-time champion scored another win. Another excellent result for Red Bull. Kudos Super Max.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:20:43.273
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull +13.643s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +18.639s
4 Oscar Piastri McLaren +32.007s
5 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +35.759s
6 George Russell Mercedes +39.936s
7 Oliver Bearman Ferrari +42.679s
8 Lando Norris McLaren +45.708s
9 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +47.391s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Haas +76.996s
11 Alexander Albon Williams +88.354s
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas +105.737s
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine +1 lap
14 Yuki Tsunoda RB +1 lap
15 Logan Sargeant Williams +1 lap
16 Daniel Ricciardo RB +1 lap
17 Valtteri Bottas Sauber +1 lap
18 Zhou Guanyu Sauber +1 lap
Lance Stroll Aston Martin DNF
Pierre Gasly Alpine DNF

5 thoughts to “Verstappen wins street fight in Jeddah”

  1. Max Verstappen has continued his title defence in fine style by taking a dominant victory in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, while an action-packed event unfolded behind him.

    The Dutchman enjoyed a strong start from pole as the 50-lap race got underway and, from there, held an assured lead, despite an early Safety Car sparking a flurry of action in the pit lane where Red Bull were amongst the teams to risk a double-stack strategy.

    Sergio Perez came home in P2 to mark a second consecutive one-two result for the squad. The Mexican was handed a five-second time penalty for an unsafe release into the path of Fernando Alonso during that busy visit to the pits, but held enough of a gap to third-placed Charles Leclerc to keep his position.

    Leclerc completed the podium ahead of Oscar Piastri in fourth, with the Australian having spent a significant portion of the race trying to find a way past Lewis Hamilton who was one of the few drivers in the field to stay out during the early run of pit stops.

  2. Charles Leclerc has heaped praise on Oliver Bearman’s 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix drive, saying “it’s just a matter of time” before the Ferrari substitute graduates full-time to Formula 1.

    After taking part in practice, regular Ferrari racer Carlos Sainz was forced to undergo surgery for appendicitis to leave the team to call on the services of Prema Racing FIA F2 driver Bearman.

    Rating his temporary team-mate’s performance and the plaudits that came Bearman’s way, Leclerc said: “I mean, he completely deserves it. He’s done an incredible job already from FP3.

    “He was straight on the pace in qualifying. He did a great job and missed Q3 by so little.

    “I think today, he’s been incredible. I mean, seventh in your first race in F1, and having only done FP3 in a new car, is just hugely impressive. So, I’m sure he’s extremely proud.”

  3. Oliver Bearman admitted he was left feeling physically “destroyed” after his debut F1 race at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, in which the rookie scored points by crossing the line in seventh place.

    The teenager put in a confident performance at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, having stepped in at Ferrari with limited notice on Friday morning following Carlos Sainz’s diagnosis of appendicitis. Bearman started from P11 on the grid but soon pulled off a series of overtakes, including moves on Yuki Tsunoda and Nico Hulkenberg.

    Asked afterwards how he was feeling, Bearman responded: “Destroyed. Physically it was a really difficult race! Especially in the end, when I had the two guys on soft behind me, I had to basically push flat out and it was a mentally difficult race as expected, and physically I was struggling too, but great fun out there.”

    “I think I put in a good showing for myself, which is the main thing right?” said Bearman. “It’s difficult circumstances, not a lot of laps on track, but I think I maximised everything today. I felt like I was a bit quicker than [Fernando] Alonso and [George] Russell in front, but not enough to catch, the gap was pretty big.

    “I lost a lot of time trying to overtake [Nico] Hulkenberg, who used his experience to keep me back for a few more laps than he should have, so that’s my bad, but no, it was a good race.”

  4. Oliver Bearman feels he aced his Formula 1 audition with seventh place as a late stand-in for Carlos Sainz at Ferrari in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

    The British 18-year-old got called up by Ferrari on Friday morning after Sainz was sidelined with appendicitis, meaning he had just final practice to prepare ahead of qualifying in Jeddah.

    After just missing out in Q3 and qualifying 11th, Bearman produced a blemish-free race to progress to seventh place at the chequered flag, ahead of fellow Britons Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton.

    “I don’t know what else I can do, because I don’t think I’ll be in F1 for the rest of the year,” Bearman said.

    “That was my goal, to do a great showing this weekend, I think I did a decent job, so that is alright.

    “That is all I can do, keep pushing in F2 and cross my fingers.”

  5. The FIA race stewards have explained why McLaren driver Lando Norris wasn’t punished for jumping the start in Formula 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

    From his sixth-placed grid slot, Norris briefly jolted forward before the five red lights went out as he prematurely released the clutch, but swiftly stopped again in his grid box before the start signal.

    “The stewards reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video and determined that the video appeared to show that car 4 moved before the start signal was given,” the statement from the stewards read.

    “However, the FIA approved and supplied transponder fitted on the car did not indicate a jump start.

    “Article 48.1 a) of the Formula One Sporting Regulations states clearly that the judgment of whether or not there was a jump start is to be made in accordance with the transponder, which did not show a jump start. In the circumstances, we took no further action.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *