Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Race


It’s been an eventful weekend so far: drivers saying F1 shouldn’t race in Saudi Arabia because of human rights violations; a missile strike on a nearby oil refinery; unanimous agreement among the drivers not to race; unanimous agreement among the drivers to go ahead with the race; SCH taken to hospital after a nasty crash in Q2… so what more could we see in the race?

The good news is that SCH tweeted last night to say he’s been released from hospital after tests, but he won’t race today so that means everyone who would have been behind him (STR, HAM, ALB, HUL, LAT, TSU) move up one place on the grid.
Meanwhile RIC was penalised three grid places after impeding OCO in Q1.

So that means the revised grid is: PER, LEC, SAI, VER, OCO, RUS, ALO, BOT, GAS, MAG, NOR, ZHO, STR, RIC, HAM, ALB, HUL, LAT, TSU; DNS: SCH

It looks like there’s a problem with SAI’s Ferrari; the mechanics are working it under FIA scrutiny
The cars can now make their way to the grid
BBC reports: Ferrari say it was an issue with the wiring loom on Sainz’s car but it has now been repaired as the pit lane opens
Radio from TSU: “Lost engine, lost engine”; he parks the AlphaTauri, so now it’s just an 18 car grid

Air temperature 25°C; track 28°C

PER leads everyone (well, all 18 cars) away on the formation lap
Everyone starting on medium tyres except MAG, HAM and HUL on hard compound

01/50: PER leads into Turn 1
VER has his elbows out – takes P3 from SAI

02: PER, LEC, VER, SAI, OCO, RUS, ALO, BOT, MAG, NOR, STR, RIC, HAM, ALB, HUL, ZHO, LAT

03: Replay of the start – ZHO seemed to have the pit limiter on or just lack drive at the start and a couple of turns later
RUS inside OCO for P5

04: NOR cuts a corner
Incident involving NOR and MAG (on lap 1) noted

05/50: PER, LEC, VER, SAI, RUS, OCO, ALO, BOT, MAG, GAS, NOR, STR, RIC, HAM, ZHO, ALB, HUL, LAT
ALO looks inside teammate OCO but the door is firmly slammed
ZHO locks up

06: ALO has DRS so has another look at OCO but can’t take P6 from the sister Alpine

07: ALO makes the move again; this time he’s past OCO and firmly cuts across
Radio from VER reporting LEC’s lights aren’t working… trying to get the Ferrari penalised?

08: OCO has a go at reclaiming P6 but runs wide, cuts the corner and comes out ahead of ALO – he’ll have to give the place back

09: OCO lets ALO past but that also lets BOT close up on them

10/50: PER, LEC, VER, SAI, RUS, ALO, OCO, BOT, MAG, GAS, NOR, STR, HAM
HAM takes P12 from STR

11: MAG has a look at BOT but runs deep
Incident involving NOR and MAG (on lap 1) – no investigation necessary
HAM closing on NOR
Incident involving ZHO and

12: HAM inside NOR to take P11
OCO attacks ALO but runs wide

13: 5-sec penalty for ZHO for leaving the track and gaining an advantage
Radio for OCO telling him to “hold position”, i.e. stop attacking ALO

14: BOT has DRS as he closes on OCO… and breezes past to take P7
HAM passes GAS on the main straight

15/50: PER, LEC, VER, SAI, RUS, ALO, BOT, OCO, MAG, HAM, GAS, NOR, ZHO, HUL, LAT, RIC, STR, ALB
Radio from LEC discussing when to pit

16: PER pits from P1; hard tyres go on; rejoins P5, just behind RUS
LEC stays out, takes P1
Yellow flag – LAT is in the wall at the final turn
VSC deployed… full SC deployed

17[SC]: The pit lane fills with everyone taking advantage of the SC
LAT is out of the car
There’s a bit of debris but not the confetti that SCH’s accident caused yesterday

18[SC]: LEC, VER, PER, SAI, RUS, MAG, HAM, ALO, HUL, BOT, OCO, RIC, NOR, GAS, ZHO, STR, ALB; out: LAT, TSU
Replay of SAI leaving the pit lane as PER passes him – that needs investigation to determine if that counts as passing under the SC

19[SC]: Incident involving SAI and PER has been noted

20/50[SC]: SC in at the end of this lap
SAI keen that the stewards review that incident before they restart
LEC easing up, letting the SC get well ahead
VER is alongside LEC, trying to push LEC
LEC has to squeeze right to the white line to try to prevent VER sneaking ahead

21: Green flag; restart
PER lets SAI through to P3 – I wonder if Red Bull were told or they decided that SAI was ahead coming out of the pit lane
Replay of radio for PER telling him to let SAI through

22: LEC, VER, SAI, PER, RUS, MAG, HAM, ALO, HUL, BOT

23: LEC fastest lap 1:34.075
DRS enabled
HAM takes P6 from MAG

24: MAG has DRS and reclaims P6
BOT looking a way round HUL; takes P9

25/50: LEC, VER, SAI, PER, RUS, MAG, HAM, ALO, BOT, OCO, HUL, RIC, NOR, GAS, ZHO, STR, ALB
HAM has DRS this time and takes P6 from MAG
Radio from VER reporting LEC touched the white line at pit-in
Race control: ZHO didn’t serve his 5-sec penalty when he pitted

27: Drive-through penalty for ZHO for not serving penalty

28: NOR takes P12 from HUL

29: LEC f/lap 1:32.711
GAS closing on HUL… takes P13
Radio from HAM reporting his tyres are still ok

30/50: LEC, VER, SAI, PER, RUS, HAM, MAG, ALO, BOT, OCO, RIC, NOR, GAS, HUL, STR, ALB, ZHO

32: BOT closing on ALO

33: LEC f/lap 1:32.683

34: ALO right on MAG’s tail

35/50: LEC, VER, SAI, PER, RUS, HAM, MAG, ALO, BOT, OCO, RIC, NOR, GAS, HUL, STR, ALB, ZHO
ALO takes P7
PER goes deep and cuts Turn 2

36: VER f/lap 1:32.474
BOT pits; retires
ALO is slowing, dropping down the order, trying to get it back to the pits

37: RIC is slowing too; he’s almost at the pit entrance
ALO has made it to pit-in too … but he’s stopping

38: VSC deployed; pit lane entry closed

39[VSC]: Marshals are pushing RIC’s and ALO’s cars into the pits

40/50[VSC]: LEC, VER, SAI, PER, RUS, HAM, OCO, NOR, GAS, STR, ALB, MAG, ZHO, HUL; out: BOT, ALO, RIC, LAT, TSU
VER has closed the gap to LEC, despite being under the VSC
Radio for HAM telling him to pit as soon as the pit lane re-opens

41[VSC]: VSC ending
HAM pits from P6; medium tyres go on; rejoins P12, inches behind MAG

42: VER closing on LEC; he’ll have DRS
VER tales P1

43: LEC now has DRS and reclaims P1
PER f/lap 1:32.205
Both lock up as they want the other to lead over the DRS line – stupid!

44: Radio from VER reporting LEC crossed the pit-in line
Radio for VER telling him to focus on driving

45/50: LEC, VER, SAI, PER, RUS, OCO, NOR, GAS, MAG, HAM, STR, ALB, ZHO, HUL

46: HAM takes P10 from STR
PER closing on SAI

47: VER has DRS this time; takes P1

48: VER f/lap 1:31.779
Now it’s LEC’s turn with DRS
Brief yellow flag in sector 1
Replay: ALB inside STR; STR turns in; they collide; ALB limps away and parks the Williams

49: Yellow flag in sector 1, which means LEC can’t use DRS

50 = final lap: Radio from VER whining about LEC closing up… like he didn’t under the VSC
OCO

VER takes the chequered flag
Provisional result: VER, LEC, SAI, PER, RUS, OCO, NOR, GAS, MAG, HAM; ZHO, HUL, STR
DNF: ALB, ALO, BOT, RIC, LAT
DNS: TSU
Fastest lap: LEC

Ongoing investigations:

  • SAI and PER for not slowing under yellow flags
  • A general “double yellow flag” investigation
  • The collision between ALB and STR

Interviews:
VER: “A good race, we were battling hard. We just had to play the long game, the tyres were wearing out quite quick. It wasn’t easy, eventually managed to get ahead – just really happy to kickstart the season.”
LEC: “It wasn’t enough today but oh my god, I really enjoyed that race! It was hard racing but fair, every race should be like this. We are in a street track, we’ve been pushing like I’ve rarely pushed before, so there is respect, but I’m also a little disappointed.”
SAI: “I think [Perez] got unlucky with the Safety Car but rules are rules. After that it was all about holding on to P3. For me this race was progress from Bahrain, I found more rhythm with the car, still some tenths to find but I’ll get there.”

[2022 calendar and line-up]