AS IT HAPPENED: Max Verstappen wins Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after epic battle with Charles Leclerc
JEDDAH: Defending Formula One world champion Max Verstappen held off the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc to win Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari was third with Sergio Perez, Verstappen’s teammate who had set off from pole, in fourth.
Verstappen was securing his first points of the season after retiring late on behind winner Leclerc in the season-opener in Bahrain last weekend.
“We were battling hard at the front. It was tough. I’m really happy we’ve finally kick-started the season,” said Verstappen.
Despite defeat, Leclerc maintains his world championship lead after two rounds.
“It wasn’t enough today, but I really enjoyed that race. It’s hard racing but it’s fair, every race should be like this. It was fun, I’m obviously disappointed, I wanted to win today,” he said.
Merecedes’ deposed seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who endured his worst qualifying since 2017 on Saturday, set off in the unfamiliar surroundings of 15th on the grid and crossed the line in 10th.
Follow how the race unfolded below… (All times BST)
19:35 – RESULT! Verstappen wins it! He managed to create more than half a second gap before the DRS zone and Leclerc wasn’t able to make it up before the chequered flag…
19:30 – Verstappen overtakes on the straight again! Leclerc may have only one chance remaining to overtake the Dutchman in the final lap of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Two drivers who have been racing each other since childhood are going at it with four laps to go. All eyes are on P1 and P2 as the two drivers battle it out.
Leclerc is losing grip in the rear as a yellow flag is called in sector 1 with two laps to go…
19:25 – The virtual safety car is over.
The gap between Leclerc and Verstappen is only three tenths of a second, meaning Verstappen is clear for DRS and is now waiting for his opportunity on the straight.
Verstappen is on the back of Charles Leclerc and overtakes the Monegasque!
Leclerc back at it seems like he let Verstappen go through before the DRS zone so that he could get it. If this was his plan, it worked. Leclerc gets DRS as Verstappen falls for the bait and is overtaken by Leclerc
19:20 – Drivers who came into the closed pit lane include Magnussen and Hulkenberg.
Officials say the closed pit lane was due to Alonso retiring his car followed by Ricciardo and Bottas
19:15 – McLaren find their way to top ten as Alonso faces issues in his Alpine and falls one position after the other down the grid
In a quick turn of events, Ricciardo who was also having a good drive like Alonso is now moving very slowly and dropping to the back of the field
19:10 – Perez, who grabbed his first ever pole on Saturday and led the early stages of the race, is still in P4 and has more than two seconds to try and recover to the podium with 15 laps to go.
19:05 – Leclerc posts the fastest lap of 1 minute and 32:71 seconds. The gap between himself and Red Bull’s world champion stays around 1 second as the battle for first place continues with 20 laps to go.
Hulkenberg who’s in for Sebastian Vettel chases down Norris in the McLaren after Norris overtook him to get behind his co-driver. Hulkenberg loses another position to Gasly.
19:00 – Ricciardo who struggled massively at the start has found his way to P11 as the race passes its halfway point.
18:55 – Charles Leclerc just posted the fastest time and is out of DRS range, bad news for the Dutchman. Hamilton is yet to pit, as the Mercedes pair hold P5 and and P6 into lap 24.
Magnussen fights back against Hamilton and takes back P5 after activating DRS taking him past the Mercedes.
18:50 – Leclerc leads into lap 21 being tailed by Verstappen with less than second between the two drivers. Sainz overtakes Perez and gets his redemption on the track.
18:47 – Saftey car ends on lap 20, Hamilton has pulled one pit of the bag, finding his way to P7 just before it was deployed.
18:45 – Perez may face a penalty after pushing Sainz out of his pit line causing the Spaniard to nearly crash into the barriers. Sainz is looking for answer from the stewards.
Video replays show Latifi getting on the power early through the final corner, which caused him to lose control and collide nose first into the barriers — two crashes in two days for Latifi.
18:40 – All drivers on hard compound tires now after pitting as the race goes into lap 18. Leclerc leads followed by the Red Bull duo, Verstappen and Perez
18:30 – Hamilton finds his way to top ten and into the points after using DRS down the main straight and overtaking Gasly.
Yellow flag waved after Nicholas Latifi oversteers and crashes into the wall, bad news for Perez who just pit before the crash, and with the saftey car out the Ferrari pair pit along with Russell, Alonso, Bottas, Ocon and others.
18:25 – Hamilton has made it past Norris for P11 as he continues to fight his way to the points and is creeping up on Pierre Gasly in the Alpha Taurin
Into lap 15, Perez leads while the teams using Mercedes engines are at the bottom of the grid, McLaren, Aston Martin and the Williams squads.
18:20 – Into lap 9, the seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is struggling wtih grip on the hard compound tires but manages to climb to P12 after overtaking Lance Stroll.
Kevin Magnussen, racing in Saudi for the first time, put the move on Valteri Bottas in the Alfa Romeo but Bottas gets the apex and successfully defends P8.
18:15 – Ricciardo who found himself in 14th after picking up a penalty for impeding Ocon in qualifying on Saturday, now finds himself up one position behind Lance Stroll with co-driver Lando Norris ahead in P11.
Alonso squeezes out teammate Ocon in lap 7 to take sixth place, although the Frenchman ambitiously attempted to fight him off despite Alonso’s faster pace around the track so far.
18:05 – Hamilton on hard tires climbs up one position to 14th after failing to qualify on Saturday. He was pushed to 15th on the grid after a massive accident from German driver Mick Schumacher caused Haas to field only one car.
George Russell goes around and overtakes Esteban Ocon in the Alpine.
18:00 – And we’re off! Perez leads, followed by Leclerc, Verstappen takes third place from Sainz off the grid. It’s Red Bull-Ferrari-Red Bull Ferrari as the race gets underway.
17:55 – Drivers have taken to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit for the formation lap before kicking off the second round of the 2022 Formula One season in Saudi Arabia
14:15 – Great news about Mick Schumacher after a heavy crash in yesterday’s qualifying. Hopefully, he’ll be back up and running for round three of the world championship in Melbourne in two weeks.
14:00 – So, just three months after the very first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, we’re back in Jeddah for another raceday. Here is a look at the starting grid for Sunday’s race, the second round of the 2022 Formula One world championship:
Sergio Perez (MEX/Red Bull)
Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari)
Carlos Sainz (ESP/Ferrari)
Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull)
Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine-Renault)
George Russell (GBR/Mercedes)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/Alpine-Renault)
Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Alfa Romeo-Ferrari)
Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri-Red Bull)
Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas-Ferrari)
Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)
Zhou Guanyu (CHN/Alfa Romeo-Ferrari)
Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin-Mercedes)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/McLaren-Mercedes)
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)
Alexander Albon (THA/Williams-Mercedes)
Nico Huelkenberg (GER/Aston Martin-Mercedes)
Nicholas Latifi (CAN/Williams-Mercedes)
Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/AlphaTauri-Honda)
Will not start: Mick Schumacher (GER/Haas-Ferrari)