Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won an epic battle over Charles Leclerc at the 2022 Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with Carlos Sainz completing the podium behind his Ferrari teammate – as pole-sitter, Sergio Perez had to settle for fourth after pitting just before a pivotal Safety Car.
Click here to subscribe to our print edition!
Perez led until Lap 16 when a flash of Ferrari mechanics perhaps triggered Red Bull into an early pit stop. That proved to be unfortunate; Williams’ Nicholas Latifi crashed at the final corner on the next lap and triggered a VSC then Safety Car, with Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz capitalising.
The Mexican was set to restart third on Lap 21 when the Safety Car retreated but was found to have passed Sainz as the Spaniard exited the pits alongside the Red Bull during the caution period, leaving the pole-sitter fourth.
Another VSC emerged on Lap 38 when McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo crawled to a halt at the pit exit, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso slowing with a problem a lap earlier – and then stopping around the same place as Ricciardo. When the VSC finished on Lap 41, Verstappen was within a second of leader Leclerc – and now came round two of their brilliant 2022 rivalry.
With DRS, the Dutchman took the lead on the back straight on Lap 42, but Leclerc came back with DRS and held onto the lead. Again on Lap 43, Verstappen attempted a move but locked up in unison with the Ferrari into the final corner, the Ferrari keeping P1.
A brief lull followed and at the start of Lap 47 before Verstappen made sure he had DRS and prised the leadoff Leclerc, the championship leader unable to close him off this time.
Leclerc put in the fastest lap with a second wind in the closing staged – but Verstappen narrowly kept him at bay, shrugging off the scare of a late Sector 1 yellow flag (for a Lance Stroll-Alex Albon coming together) to win by just 0.549s.
George Russell took P5 at Esteban Ocon’s expense, the Alpine driver having lost out to the Mercedes on Lap 3 and then battled with his teammate Alonso (DNF) in an exciting early-race battle. Ocon, out-dragged here for P3 in 2021, kept McLaren’s Lando Norris at bay by a tenth of a second on the line in a drag race for P6.
Pierre Gasly made up one place to P8 for AlphaTauri, with the Haas of Kevin Magnussen ninth from 10th on the grid, and Lewis Hamilton – who was unfortunate not to be able to pit during the second VSC – taking the final point from his P15 start for Mercedes.
Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu missed out on a second consecutive point finish, receiving two penalties, the first for cutting a corner in an early scrap with Albon and the second for failing to serve that penalty correctly when he pitted.
Stroll, Albon, Valtteri Bottas, Alonso and Ricciardo, were the five drivers not to make the flag.
Neither Mick Schumacher, who crashed out of qualifying, nor Yuki Tsunoda, whose AlphaTauri stopped with a technical issue on his lap to the grid, started the race.
Mario Isola – Head of F1 and car racing at Pirelli commented:
Another good night, another good race! Once more, the conditions at the 2022 Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix were completely different from Bahrain in terms of track layout and characteristics, we saw the latest cars able to follow and pass each other with some great on-track battles: which is down to the new tyres as well.
The hard was the key compound to tonight’s race, with strong performance and almost zero degradation, as proved by Charles Leclerc’s fastest lap just two from the end on a well-used set. The medium also had quite a low degradation, contributing to the one-stop strategy that we thought would be fastest and helping to deliver an exciting race from start to finish.
The fastest race lap was also less than a second slower than the equivalent lap on the same compound last year. So putting all this together, it’s clear to see how the new car and tyre package is so far delivering on all the hopes and expectations that we had for this year. Congratulations to Max Verstappen for the heartbreaking victory!
2022 Formula 1 Saudi Arabian GP Race Results
|1.||1||Max Verstappen||Netherlands||Red Bull Racing||1:24:19.293||25||25|
|2.||16||Charles Leclerc||Monaco||Scuderia Ferrari||+0.549s||19||45|
|3.||55||Carlos Sainz||Spain||Scuderia Ferrari||+8.097s||15||33|
|4.||11||Sergio Perez||Mexico||Red Bull Racing Honda||+10.800s||12||12|
|5.||63||George Russell||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+32.732s||10||22|
|6.||31||Esteban Ocon||France||Alpine F1 Team||+56.017s||8||14|
|7.||4||Lando Norris||Great Britain||Mclaren Racing||+56.124s||6||6|
|8.||10||Pierre Gasly||France||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+62.946s||4||4|
|9.||20||Kevin Magnussen||Denmark||Haas F1 Team||+64.308s||2||12|
|10.||44||Lewis Hamilton||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+73.948s||1||16|
|11.||24||Zhou Guanyu||China||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+82.215s||0||1|
|12.||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Germany||Aston Martin F1 Team||+91.742s||0||0|
|13.||18||Lance Stroll||Canada||Aston Martin F1 Team||+1 lap||0||0|
|14.||23||Alexander Albon||Thailand||Williams Racing||DNF||0||0|
|15.||77||Valtteri Bottas||Finland||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||DNF||0||8|
|16.||14||Fernando Alonso||Spain||Alpine F1 Team||DNF||0||2|
|17.||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Australia||McLaren Racing||DNF||0||0|
|16.||6||Nicholas Latifi||Canada||Williams Racing||DNF||0||0|
|8.||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Japan||Scuderia AlphaTauri||DNS||0||4|
|11.||47||Mick Schumacher||Germany||Haas F1 Team||DNS||0||0|
2022 Constructor Standings
|2.||Red Bull Racing||151|
|3.||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team||95|
|5.||Alfa Romeo Racing||31|
|6.||Alpine F1 Team||26|
|8.||Haas F1 Team||15|
|9.||Aston Martin F1 Team||6|