Lewis Hamilton wins thrilling Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

December 05, 2021

JEDDAH — Lewis Hamilton won the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on Sunday for Mercedes after one of the most bizarre races in Formula 1 history with title rival Max Verstappen.

In a race that required two restarts and four virtual safety cars, Hamilton and Verstappen clashed on track numerous times. After numerous interjections from race control, Verstappen was handed a 5s penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage as well as being docked two places for the second restart.

Verstappen also handed the lead to Hamilton on two occasions, and had Hamilton drive into the back of him at one point in a botched position switch move.

From pole position Hamilton led his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and Verstappen. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc held fourth, ahead of Sergio Perez (Red Bull – who locked up at Turn 1 and just missed Verstappen), Lando Norris (McLaren) and Esteban Ocon (Alpine), the latter duo gaining spots from Pierre Gasly’s slow-starting AlphaTauri. His teammate Yuki Tsunoda also lost places after banging wheels with Ocon on the run to Turn 1.

Hamilton pulled clear of Bottas, who in turn had a healthy gap over Verstappen. The race was interrupted by a safety car for Mick Schumacher’s crash at Turn 22 on Lap 10, which sent both Mercedes into the pits but Verstappen stayed out.

Bottas had blatantly held up Verstappen to the tune of a couple of seconds to allow a gap so Mercedes could stack its cars, sparking complaints from Max. A few minutes later, the complaints were coming from Hamilton instead, as the red flag was thrown for barrier repairs, which gifted Verstappen a free tyre change while retaining the lead.

After the barrier repairs were completed, Verstappen lined up on pole for the standing restart, ahead of Hamilton, Bottas and Ocon.

Verstappen made a poor getaway, allowing Hamilton to get ahead, but Verstappen outbraked the Mercedes on the outside, overshot the first corner and they almost made contact as he rejoined, Max now in front having missed the apex kerb. Ocon vaulted up to second in the melee, as Bottas locked up and ran wide. — Agencies

December 05, 2021
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