Paul Henman formula1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix

Saudi Arabia Grand Prix

Two weeks after the Bahrain Grand Prix, F1 is in Saudi Arabia.

LEC comes to the weekend already having a 10-place grid drop as he used both his allocated electronic control units (ECU) in Bahrain. Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur said that the ECU had a problem when the car was started on race morning in Bahrain, and that Leclerc, 25, retired with a problem in the replacement part. “[…] unfortunately we will have to take the penalty in Jeddah because we only have a pool of two ECUs for the season.” [BBC]

Qualifying:

  1. Q1: DEV loses the tail and spins into Turn 1
    NOR taps the wall, damaging his front-left steering
    ALO spins coming out of Turn 2
    SAR spins in T23 but keeps it out of the wall
  2. Q2: VER retires with a driveshaft problem
  3. Q3: ALO was P2 as the clock reached zero, then LEC went P2 but his penalty means he’ll start P12

Grid: PER, ALO, RUS, SAI, STR, OCO, HAM, PIA, GAS, HUL, ZHO, LEC, MAG, BOT, VER, TSU, ALB, DEV, NOR, SAR

Air temperature 26°C; track 32°C

PER leads everyone away on the formation lap
They’re all on medium tyres except HAM (hard), LEC (soft), NOR (soft) and SAR (hard)
Long wait for the front runners as the rear of the grid takes time to get into position

01/50: PER tries to defend but ALO leads into Turn 1
STR harrying SAI for P4
ALO noted for incorrect start position
PIA reports he has damage

02: ALO, PER, RUS, STR, SAI, OCO, HAM, GAS, LEC, ZHO
PIA pits for a new front wing
5sec penalty for ALO for incorrect start position
VER takes P13 from TSU

03: DRS enabled
NOR pits from a front wing – both McLarens switched to hard tyres

04: PER dives inside ALO to steal P1 into Turn 1
Replay shows ALO is too far left of the start position

05/50: PER, ALO, RUS, STR, SAI, OCO, HAM, GAS, LEC, ZHO
VER past HUL for P12 … and then past MAG for P11

07: PER only 0.8sec ahead of ALO; RUS is over 3sec further back
LEC takes P8 from GAS

08: PER fastest lap 1:34.277
VER past ZHO for P10
HAM under investigation for weaving on the straight

09: HAM shown black and white flag for weaving
VER easily past GAS

10/50: PER, ALO, RUS, STR, SAI, OCO, LEC, HAM, VER, GAS, ZHO, HUL, TSU, ALB, DEV, SAT, MAG, PIA, BOT, NOR
VER’s next target is HAM

11: PER f/lap 1:34.106

12: VER breezes past HAM for P8
ZHO and HUL pit

13: LEC closing on OCO… and takes P6
Radio from ALO, “My tyres feel good, we can keep going”
SAI told to pit

14: STR pits, SAI stays out; STR takes on hard tyres; rejoins P11

15/50: PER, ALO, RUS, SAI, LEC, VER, OCO, HAM
GAS pits; hards on; rejoins P14
SAI told to pit for real this time

16 : SAI pits; hards; rejoins P9

17: LEC pits; hards; rejoins P8
OCO pits too; rejoins P13
Yellow flags – STR has stopped on track
Replay of his engineer telling STR quite urgently to stop the Aston Martin on the track

18: Safety Car deployed

19[SC]: PER pits, followed by ALO who has to serve his 5sec penalty
RUS pits, as does VER and then HAM

20[SC]: PER, ALO, RUS, VER, SAI, HAM, LEC, TSU, OCO, GAS, MAG, ALB, HUL, DEV, SAR, PIA, ZHO, BOT, NOR; out: STR
SC coming in at the end of this lap

21: PER backs everyone up and then bolts away into Turn 1
HAM on mediums while everyone else is on hards, so can he fight back?

22: SAI defends into Turn 1 but HAM takes P5 coming out of the corner

23: DRS enabled
VER looks inside RUS but RUS defends
VER has DRS behind RUS; HAM almost close enough to have DRS behind VER
With DRS open VER steams past RUS for P3

24: VER reeling in ALO
Black and white flag for SAI for weaving

25/50: PER, ALO, VER, RUS, HAM, SAI, LEC, OCO, GAS, TSU, MAG, HUL, ALB, SAR, ZHO, DEV, NOR, PIA, BOT
PER f/lap 1:33.440

26: VER f/lap 1:32.933

27: ALB nursing his Williams back to the pits

28: VER f/lap 1:32.838
Doesn’t look like RUS has been told to let HAM through
Radio from RUS wanting to challenge ALO; hadn’t realised ALO has served the 5sec penalty

29: ALB finally in the pits; retires
RUS has picked up his pace and HAM no longer has DRS

30/50: PER, VER, ALO, RUS, HAM, SAI, LEC, OCO, GAS, TSU, MAG, HUL, SAR, ZHO, DEV, NOR, PIA, BOT; out: ALB, STR
PER 5sec ahead of VER; VER 6sec ahead of ALO

32: VER f/lap 1:32.382
LEC locks up and cuts a corner

33: SAR closing on HUL

36: HUL taps the wall as he’s checking his mirrors
BOT pits; softs go on

37: Radio from VER sounding concerned about the driveshaft, which is what caused him problems yesterday

38: PER and VER both cut Turn 23
ZHO squeezes past SAR for P13

40/50: PER, VER, ALO, RUS, HAM, SAI, LEC, OCO, GAS, TSU, MAG, HUL, ZHO, SAR, DEV, NOR, PIA, BOT; out: ALB, STR
PER reports a long brake pedal
MAG has a look at TSU but the AlphaTauri stays ahead

42: SAR still has DEV, NOR and PIA on his tail
DEV dives inside and steals P14 from SAR
NOR tries to follow but can’t quite catch SAR

43: Radio from PER suggesting they don’t need to push so hard; he’s told “you’re free to push”
Are the Red Bull pit wall still thinking about handing P1 to VER?

45/50: PER, VER, ALO, RUS, HAM, SAI, LEC, OCO, GAS, TSU, MAG, HUL, ZHO, DEV, SAR, NOR, PIA, BOT
MAG trying to find a way round TSU for P10
PIA steals P16 from NOR but his senior teammate reclaims it

46: MAG dives through into Turn 1 to take P10 from TSU
Radio from VER asking about fastest lap; he’s told that doesn’t concern us at the moment; VER says it concerns him
(PER currently holds f/lap)

48: PER 6sec ahead of VER; VER 16.8sec ahead of ALO
Radio for RUS suggesting there might be a 5sec penalty for ALO
Radio for NOR telling him not to make it too hard for PIA
PIA takes P16

49: What could be the cause for ALO’s penalty? Commentators suggest it might be that the mechanics touched the car before he served his 5sec penalty, but OCO got 10secs for that in the previous race
Radio for ALO suggesting he open a 5sec gap, just in case

50/50: VER seems to be pushing hard
PIA has passed SAR

PER takes the chequered flag
VER P2; f/lap 1:31.906
ALO P3

Provisional result: PER, VER, ALO, RUS, HAM, SAI, LEC, OCO, GAS, MAG; TSU, HUL, ZHO, DEV, PIA, SAR, NOR, BOT
DNF: ALB, STR

VER heads into the pits instead of stopping on the main straight – low on fuel?
The Red Bull team congratulate PER but Jos Verstappen (VER’s dad) won’t even make eye contact – what a sore loser

Did we get the full 3-minute Mexican anthem? It’s usually just a verse or two and then on to the constructor’s anthem

The stewards are reviewing ALO’s pit stop – if they decide the team touched the car before the 5-sec penalty was served, then RUS will be P3 but HAM stays P5
Update: yes, the stewards have given ALO a 10-sec penalty, so the order is now PER, VER, RUS, ALO, HAM…

[2023 calendar and driver line-up]
Next race: Australia on April 2nd.

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