|F1 Jeddah GP| 2022 race analysis:
Verstappen beats Leclerc after thrilling late battle
Race results. F1 Jeddah GP 2022.
F1 2022 GP race results: Verstappen wins wild Jeddah GP 2022
The Red Bull driver passed the Ferrari with four laps to go after the two had duelled during a tense race.
The battle occasionally bordered on farce as the two slowed down almost to a stop at times to try to work the DRS overtaking zones to their advantage.
But Verstappen edged it by 0.5 seconds after making the decisive move.
The two were in a league of their own out front as Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez took third and fourth.
READ: HOW F1 DRS WORKS?
George Russell finished fifth for Mercedes, ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Lewis Hamilton recovered from starting 15th to finish 10th.
The excitement meant a difficult weekend for F1 ended on a high, but the drivers and other senior figures unnerved by Friday’s missile strike on a nearby oil depot are unlikely to allow the sport’s bosses to forget what has been an uncomfortable three days in the desert.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez led from his first F1 career pole position start but his race came undone after making his pitstop just before a safety car, which promoted Leclerc to the lead ahead of Verstappen and Sainz.
Verstappen passed Leclerc after an intense battle where, like in Bahrain, they swapped the lead between them. Verstappen made the decisive move with four laps to go following a wild game of chicken over who reached the DRS line first.
After his disappointing DNF in Bahrain, Max Verstappen finally kick-started his 2022 season and title defence in Saudi Arabia, despite a below-par qualifying by his high standards.
Verstappen immediately snatched third with a brilliant lunge on Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari into Turn 1, a move that brought him into contention for a possible victory.
The reigning world champion profited from his teammate’s misfortune during the first Safety Car period to earn promotion into second, before he engaged in a race-long battle for victory with Charles Leclerc.
Some “smart tricks” in the DRS overtaking zones ultimately proved key to Verstappen overhauling Leclerc as he passed the Ferrari driver with four laps to go following an intense duel.
It was a much-needed result for Verstappen and one that sees him cut the deficit to early championship leader Leclerc to 20 points amid what is already shaping up to be a thrilling title fight.
“It was a really tough race but a good race. We were both battling hard at the front. We just tried to play the long game. They were really quick through corners and we were really quick on the straight. The tyres were wearing out quite quick. You could see by the end we had a little bit more pace. I tried to get by, it wasn’t easy, they were playing smart tricks in the last corner, but eventually I managed to get ahead. Even after that he was constantly in the DRS.
Really happy we finally kick-started the season.”
READ: WHAT IS CASTER ANGLE?
Analysis of the race: Jeddah GP 2022 – the other teams.
George Russell got the most out of Mercedes’ W13 in qualifying and race. With teammate Lewis Hamilton struggling for pace and grip, Russell drove a quiet but impressive race to finish fifth which moves him ahead of the seven-time champion in the standings.
A weekend to forget for seven-time world champion Hamilton, whose difficult start to the 2022 season continued in Jeddah.
Hamilton suffered a shock Q1 elimination during a dreadful qualifying on Saturday – his worst qualifying performance on pure pace since Silverstone 2009 – and despite his best efforts, he could only muster a solitary point in 10th.
At one stage, Hamilton looked like he might finish sixth or seventh after running long into the first stint on Hard tyres brought him into contention during the Safety Car. But Hamilton was less fortunate during a late Virtual Safety Car period.
Confusion and hesitation between the Mercedes pit wall and driver meant Hamilton missed the chance to pit before they closed due to stopped cars blocking the entrance, meaning he had to wait until the VSC ended to finally stop.
That dropped Hamilton down to 12th, but he fought his way back to salvage 10th, which will act as little comfort given the mountain he and Mercedes need to climb to have any chance of competing for this year’s world title.
Hamilton’s post-race radio message questioning “is there even a point for that position” summed up a disappointing weekend.
It was the best qualifying lap of Perez’s career as he finally claimed his maiden pole position with a breathtaking effort. The Red Bull driver controlled the race from the front, leading Leclerc by over two seconds before stopping on Lap 16. It was awful timing for Perez as Nicholas Latifi just crashed, allowing the three cars behind him to ultimately jump him under the Safety Car. Very unfortunate for Perez who was a serious contender for the victory.
Williams had a nightmare grand prix in Jeddah as both its cars failed to make the finish.
First, Latifi binned his FW44 at the final corner on Lap 16, before teammate Alex Albon was forced to retire after a rather clumsy tangle with Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin at Turn 1 with three laps to go.
A desperate lunge that Albon had no chance of pulling off has earned him a three-place grid penalty for the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks, further compounding a truly miserable race for the struggling British outfit.
HAAS – KEVIN MAGNUSSEN
Another impressive showing from Magnussen in Saudi Arabia. He once again made Q3 and ran comfortably in the points during the opening phase of the race. The early Safety Car compromised his strategy – as he was in the minority to start on the hards – but he drove well to get back into the points.
The Saudi Arabian GP started with much promise for Alfa Romeo but ended in heartbreak as it missed out on the points with both cars. Valtteri Bottas once again impressed in qualifying and the Finn looked likely to translate his top-10 starting berth into another points finish until a technical issue forced him into retirement late on.
Alfa Romeo’s start problems this time hampered Guanyu Zhou, with the Chinese rookie’s car going into anti-stall during an awful opening lap.
READ: WHAT IS CASTER ANGLE?
Zhou’s day went from bad to worse as he picked up a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, which turned into a drive-through penalty when he failed to serve the original penalty in the pits.
That ultimately prevented Zhou from scoring points in back-to-back events as he missed out in 11th.