Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Review

We didn't need the close walls to get the drama!

6w ago
745

It was looking like a calm, clean and almost dull race for the first 14 laps, until the proverbial hit the fan, leaving us with a race I don’t think anyone can quite comprehend! There is so much to talk about, mostly for the top two teams, on a day where I believe respect was lost for each other!

Mercedes clearly had the better race pace, as Max couldn’t really challenge to begin with, but later on Lewis was all over him on the harder tyres. They got unlucky with the first red flag, as it would have been foolish not to pit in their position. From then on, Hamilton weathered the barrage that was sent at him pretty well, although I still think it was silly for him to not pass Verstappen when he tried to let him through, you don’t need the FIA to tell Lewis to pass a car, it is called a race for a reason! The incident where he pushed Max wide at the last corner, I am guessing he just didn’t see him. Otherwise, it was a great drive to keep fighting with the broken wing, as he draws level on points with Max. I do think that Lewis has overreacted slightly to the defending by Verstappen, as whilst the first incident was stupid by Max, the rest was just the Dutchman defending with all he could. Bottas did his job for the team, yet given the car he had, it shouldn’t have taken him so long to do so!

In some ways it was a punch to the gut for Red Bull to lose the race, however, no one really expected them to be contending for the win in the first place, so 2nd isn’t a disaster. Also, looking at the Mercedes race pace, crashing in Q3 didn’t really change anything as to the result. Max’s divebomb on the first restart as I said was stupid, he was never going to make the corner properly, he just wanted to disturb Lewis. The move after that though was superb, as he dove past Hamilton and Ocon, to take the lead. Sadly, for him though, even with softer tyres the pace just wasn’t there. The defending dive by Max was on the edge, but you can see he tried to make the corner, and if his rear tyres had held on, he could have made it, so I wouldn’t call that dangerous. Yes, it was tactical by Verstappen to let Hamilton by when he did, but that’s part of the game, and as Max did brake test him, the 10 second penalty was a fair penalty. I just don’t understand where the other one comes from! In the end, the medium strategy didn’t work, but they had to try something, I just think that Max and the team need to reset and clear their head before the finale! Perez was unlucky on the restart, there wasn’t much he could do really, and has probably cost them the constructor’s title.

Alpine are on fire right now, I have no idea where their pace has come from, but Ocon just dropped the rest of the midfield in the 2ndhalf of the race, and nearly got a podium, but was cruelly denied. That has basically sealed 5th for the team, as the suggest 2022 could be a big year for them, given this year’s car is basically 3 years old. Alonso struggled in the midfield, likely caught up in incidents too.

McLaren had an alright day, much better than the last few, but the first Red Flag really screwed Norris. That being said, it helped Ricciardo, so they probably did as well as they could anyway. McLaren do deserve to end the year on a high after some painful races. Ferrari too would have hoped for more from the race, with the red flag hurting Leclerc too. The two teammates had a rather spirited battle, but the main thing is they both finished, and limited the loss to McLaren, effectively sealing 3rd for them.

To be honest, we didn’t see much of the midfield this race, as it was chaos up front, but Gasly seemed consistent in the points all race, just not quite having the pace for McLaren. Tsunoda collided with Vettel, ruining both their days, it wasn’t a clear cut penalty for either, Yuki was optimistic but may have deserved some room on the apex.

Aston Martin had a horrible weekend, so for Stroll to almost score points is actually a good effort, they just seemed to come back a bit to the midfield in the race. Alfa Romeo should be pleased to score more points, and beat a McLaren, Giovinazzi is at least ending his F1 career on a high. Kimi meanwhile pulled a rather reckless move around the outside of Vettel, which was never going to work.

Latifi actually got close to points too, but the car wasn’t suited to this track enough to exploit the number of incidents we saw in the race. Whilst the Mazepin crash looks pretty bad, you don’t expect a car to brake on a straight, so you can’t blame him too much, although maybe he should have been more aware of what was going on ahead.

Time to talk about the FIA, and this probably won’t actually be as much of a rant as people expect it to be. The circumstances of the first red flag are just one of those things, safety is the priority. The deal making with Red Bull after the 2nd red flag, only happened because the team didn’t have a chance to give the place back on track, which is the default first course of action, I am not keen on the deal making, but it is better than penalties. Then, apparently the reason the FIA couldn’t tell Mercedes that Max would let Lewis past, is because the Mercedes representative was talking to someone else at the time, so Masi couldn’t do anything else. What I will say though, is that to combat this problem, there should be the option for a pitlane channel, where the Race Director can talk to multiple people at each team in case of this scenario. The other error the FIA made, is why did they penalise Max the 5 seconds whilst he was trying to let Lewis past, it wasn’t like Red Bull were disobeying them. There were various other slip ups too, which continue to taint their reputation, which needs to be sorted out!

This Hollywood blockbuster of a season is reaching the final, dramatic scene, and I just hope we get a clean weekend, with no controversy, no dirty moves, and most of all no long stewards enquiry. When the race ends, there should be a definitive winner, and they both deserve it to be them!

-M

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