Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022

Verstappen beats Leclerc to win intense Jeddah battle by half a second

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen held on to beat Charles Leclerc to victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix following a dramatic late race battle between the pair.

The world champion passed Leclerc after a multi-lap duel in the closing laps before holding off the Ferrari to win by half a second at the finish. Carlos Sainz Jnr took third, with Sergio Perez finishing fourth in the second Red Bull.

When the lights went out, Perez led the two Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz onto the run to the first corner. Zhou Guanyu fell to the back of the field after falling into anti-stall when he bounced over the sausage kerb at the apex of the first turn, while Verstappen muscled his way past Sainz to take third place as his team mate pulled a lead of just over a second by the end of the first lap.

Esteban Ocon had held onto fifth place at the start, but was passed by George Russell’s Mercedes at turn 13 in the early laps. He then came under intense pressure for sixth from his team mate, Fernando Alonso. Ocon shut the door on Alonso as his team mate attempted to slipstream past him down the pit straight.

The two Alpines engaged in a fierce multi-lap duel, trading sixth position several times, before Alonso was eventually able to take the place and stay ahead, while Valtteri Bottas began to pressure the pair of them behind.

Start, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in pictures
As the pit stop window for the medium tyre runners opened on lap 15, Ferrari told Leclerc to pit and undercut the race leader. Red Bull immediately responded and brought Perez in first to cover off the attempt, as Leclerc continued out on the track.

As Perez rejoined the circuit with the hard tyres, the yellow flags suddenly flew as Nicholas Latifi had crashed his Williams exiting the final corner. The Virtual Safety Car was deployed, allowing Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz to all come into the pits as the field slowed.

That enabled Leclerc to keep the lead after leaving the pitlane, with Verstappen promoted to second place. Sainz exited the pitlane with Perez rounding turn one. Despite crossing the Safety Car line after the Ferrari, Perez took third from Sainz as the pair began to catch the leaders under the now full Safety Car conditions.

At the restart, Leclerc led away from Verstappen as, behind them, Perez blended out of the throttle exiting turn three and allowing Sainz to retake third place.

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With the entire field now either on new hard tyres on still on the hard tyres they started the race on, Leclerc and Verstappen began to gradually pull away out front just as they had the previous weekend in Bahrain.

On lap 39, Alonso began slowing in the Alpine with his steering wheel dashboard informing him to “cool the car”. Then, Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren slowed to a crawl exiting the final hairpin before coming to rest just before the pit entry. The Virtual Safety Car was deployed for several laps as both cars were recovered.

The race resumed with nine laps remaining, with Leclerc only just ahead of Verstappen. As the pair rounded turn 26, Leclerc backed off to allow Verstappen through before the DRS detection zone, allowing the Ferrari to use the device to repass the Red Bull along the main straight.

After more close battling between the pair – including both drivers coming close to a stop before the DRS detection zone – Verstappen eventually passed the Ferrari along the pit straight. While Leclerc stayed close to the Red Bull, Verstappen was able to hold on to take the chequered flag by half a second from the Ferrari, who added an extra point to his 18 for second place with the fastest lap.

Sainz finished third, eight seconds behind, with Perez fourth. George Russell claimed fifth for Mercedes, with Ocon in sixth in the sole remaining Alpine. Norris finished seventh for McLaren, with Pierre Gasly in eighth.

Kevin Magnussen and Lewis Hamilton rounded out the points in ninth and tenth, respectively, the latter glumly asking “is there even a point for that position?”

After the chequered flag, Sainz, Magnussen and Perez were all announced to be under investigation by the stewards for allegedly failing to slow under yellow flags over the final two laps, after a late collision between Lance Stroll and Alex Albon.

Long before the start of the race, Yuki Tsunoda was struck with a problem on his AlphaTauri during his reconnaissance lap to the grid. Coupled with Mick Schumacher’s withdrawal yesterday, that left only 18 cars to line up on the grid for the second race of the 2022 season.

11Max VerstappenRed Bull
216Charles LeclercFerrari
355Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari
411Sergio PerezRed Bull
563George RussellMercedes
631Esteban OconAlpine-Renault
74Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes
810Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red Bull
920Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari
1044Lewis HamiltonMercedes
1124Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-Ferrari
1227Nico HulkenbergAston Martin-Mercedes
1318Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes
1423Alexander AlbonWilliams-Mercedes
1577Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-Ferrari
1614Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault
173Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes
1922Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red Bull

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2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix reaction

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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97 comments on “Verstappen beats Leclerc to win intense Jeddah battle by half a second”

  1. That’s a little condescending from Lewis!

    1. I can see him ducking out by half season if Merc don’t improve fast.
      Lets see how much he really believes in his win/lose as a team line.

      1. He will stay. 2009 and 2013 are good seasons to show how he responds when faced with a bad car. It may take a couple of races for him to get used to this situation, but he will be back at his best then.

      2. You obviously can’t see very well. Lewis has probably spent more time in a single team, than you have ever spent in any job.

        Contest that if you will.

        1. I’ve been working for myself for the last 25 years so…

          After having a clear race winning car for the last eight years and his record of complaining when things go wrong, do you really think he’s going to be satisfied with finishing 6th and up race after race?

          1. So has he for the last 20 years

            Who did better?

          2. Sikhumbuzo Khumalo
            27th March 2022, 21:19

            Focus on things that improve your

    2. Well I guess he hasn’t really had to think about it for the best part of a decade!

      1. @tommy-c Last time Lewis was in a car that was naturally fighting for this position, it was 2009 and ninth didn’t score points (the system changed to the current one in 2010)…

  2. Hearing some under investigation for yellow flags infringement. Who is this TV director for showing replays while there was a battle for the lead? I bet that was the director who showed Stroll locking up in Monaco last year while Vettel, Gasly and Hamilton were fighting at the pit exit.

    1. Masis new job – TV director ;-)

      1. Nailed it :-)

    2. @krichelle This was so frustrating. What could have been an absorbing, enthralling 10 minutes of television watching the protagonists duel throughout the entire lap, with the relative advantages ebbing and flowing sector by sector, instead had all the intensity and continuity of a YouTube highlights reel. The slow-mo replays were especially galling. Why is it that TV directors forget that the most exciting thing about watching cars go fast is…watching them go fast?

      1. Yeah TV was pretty much another disaster.

    3. @krichelle
      I think the worst part was when they showed the cheering crowd right after Verstappen’s pass for the lead – while Verstappen and Leclerc were on the main straight and the battle was still on!

      1. Yep, I nearly yelled at the TV at that point but then reminded myself it was 5am and I’d best not wake the kids!

    4. Not to mention always showing the random crowd while the duel on track is still on. God, I hate them whoever they are. So many times I was yelling inside: “Let us see what the f is going on”. Unacceptable.

  3. Ricciardo, Bottas, & Alonso getting an issue nearly simultaneously was a weird coincidence.

  4. Verstappen was lucky with the Stroll yellow flag nipping Leclerc’s last real challenge in the bud, but still, he won the position well, great racing from both. And Alonso and Ocon…

    1. Leclerc was lucky with the VSC right after Perez made his first stop….so what are exactly saying?

      1. Seems pretty clear but what he was exactly saying was….

        “Verstappen was lucky with the Stroll yellow flag nipping Leclerc’s last real challenge in the bud, but still, he won the position well, great racing from both. And Alonso and Ocon…”

        1. Perez (actually Rbr’s as usual unsporting gameplay) prevented the chance of Sainz to attack Max at the restart after SC period. Perez ilegally passed Sainz under SC but gave it back after race strat. Its interesting this has not noted by stewards.

          1. I thought it was said you could not overtake under a safety car. At that time the stewards had not made any decision on the issue so the place was returned once the race restarted.

            Did you notice how the position was returned in a reasonable place on the track and not at a place where Perez could use DRS to immediately attack? I wonder if they have changed the rules this year?

          2. @johnandtonic DRS is disabled for 2 laps after a SC restart.

      2. He needs his fantasies.. so let him be.
        Verstappen was lucky faster, in passing, in following the fast ferrari, in battling fair with Leclerc, making a good start, keeping his tires alive.. all because of enormous amount of luck.
        Lewis on the other hand was very unlucky… he was slow, missed the pits when it was open, ended with only one point.
        so you see, F1 is all about luck…

        1. erikje

          He needs his fantasies..

          Don’t we all?! I thought the point was self-evident and fair. We’d watched lap after lap of close racing, Leclerc outfoxing Verstappen various times, but Max finally timing it perfectly. I thought he’d pull away, but no, and Leclerc set up for a final round – which we were denied by one very timely yellow flag. That was annoying because I wanted to see those final two laps, see what tactics each would use. It doesn’t mean that I thought Verstappen was lucky to win because he may well have come out ahead still. But hey, you need your fantasy that we’re all out to get Max! He was excellent and has been racing fairly this year so far and it’s been hugely entertaining, absolutely no complaints.

          1. José Lopes da Silva
            27th March 2022, 20:35

            “that we’re all out to get Max!”
            A lot of commenting people effectively are. Can’t blame him for thar defensive reaction.

      3. Perez was stack behind George Russel coming out of the pit and in the first sector alone he lost almost 1s. The overcut would have worked on him anyway.

        1. * stuck

      4. He was… but the overcut could have worked for him. Perez left the pits right behind Russell and then dropped away. With a couple of good laps the Leclerc could have exited in front of Perez. His pit exit and first sequence of corners also could have ended up costing him third.

  5. Great racing at the front. Sainz needs to get on top of the car as Charles looks much faster.
    That Latifi guy is rubbish. He might be a worse crasher then Mazepin.
    Very unlucky ‘Pit Lane Entry closed’ for Lewis. Mercedes race pace is nowhere. Consistently more than a second per lap slower than the Top 2.

    1. unlucky yes.. but at least this time he noticed the signs and avoided a penalty.

      1. IIRC ast one to get a penalty for not seeing signs was VER, who overtook at double yellows. U know – the rogue marshall who decided to do his job right.

        1. So another Lewis incident that you missed.. whats new?

          1. You missed the rogue marshall? Poor you

          2. Hamilton was told to box 20 feet after he passed the (still very open) pits.

          3. @neiana iirc one of the stranded car was parked at pit entry, so Lewis maybe would have needed to cross the white line. Didnt rewatch, so I am not sure

          4. @romtrain He would, but he might have felt that it was worth arguing the point with the stewards, given that there was a safe way to do what would have been an against-regulations move.

          5. @neiana he was told as he was exiting the last corner, which left him plenty of time.
            @romtrain Ricciardo was parked before pit entry, with enough space left to box. Magnussen had done the exact same just before, so Lewis could have done that too.

    2. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      27th March 2022, 20:19

      You should also add Stroll to that list with Latifi. Like what was he thinking just coming down like that on Albon.

      1. I luv chicken
        27th March 2022, 22:46

        Stewards saw this differently, I believe. Albion the guilty party, with a 3 grid spot drop in Oz. I could be wrong.

      2. @flyingferrarim He thought he’d got the position secured for that corner and got dive-bombed – the radio was pretty clear on that point.

  6. Looks like Red bull has a rocket engine

    1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      27th March 2022, 20:22

      I think its more about the way RBR went low downforce and focused on a fast 2nd and 3rd sector. Alfa Tauri wasn’t nearly as strong as RBR was on the straights. I think both PU manufacturers have similar pace but different power bands.

      1. @flyingferrarim I just wanted to be the first the say that, after Merc got accused of having a rocket for Lewis last year. I do think the engine is very strong, and it wont be packaged as well for the AT but I agree they did go lower downforce which worked very well.

        1. So what was the point of your post? Just some trolling?

  7. The constant speculation on the last corner to get DRS debauched overtaking

    1. @markwebber Somehow for me it’s better, it adds a bit of cunning and skill to what is otherwise point and shoot DRS on the straights.

  8. What a battle between Max and Charles, its going to better than 2021. Clean and respectful racing between 2 great drivers.

    1. This could remain a bit longer a respectful battle than seen last season, since both will not turn to shady off track antics by creative storytelling. But at some point they will likely believe the other deliberately ‘did this’ or ‘did that’ and the relationship will become undercooled. Let’s hope that point is far in the future since the current situation is a breath of fresh air vs last year

      1. It’s all fine early on in the season. Last years it was the same. Let’s see what’s goings to happen in a few months if things stay as close as they are.
        But great racing today.

    2. Just wait till they collide! But I agree, I don’t see the fanaticism from Charlie fans and who doesn’t like to see ferrari doing well for once?

      1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
        28th March 2022, 19:15

        Us Ferrari fan’s are just happy to see the red cars fighting for wins again. Leclerc has really been impressive and has been on it out of the gate. I’m hoping his driving mistakes don’t creep back in. So far we’ve seen some good racing between the two and that is a win for all the fans regardless of whom you are cheering on! With that said, I’m sure fire works will happen at some point as it did between Max and Lewis.

  9. I think Rbr has a more efficient aero and Ferrari has a better overall engine. In the end, they matched evenly and on this bizarre track, the team which had better straight-line speed hardly won. On most other circuits Ferrari won if everything stays as today. On the driver’s front, it seems to me Charles is better at qualifying and Max is better at racing.

    1. +1 I think i agree to this conclusion.

    2. Charles is better at qualifying and Max is better at racing

      Not quite sure what you mean by ‘racing.’ I think Max has amazing pace over a race, even when he has car issues. Yes I’d put him ahead of Leclerc. But if you mean ‘wheel-to-wheel racing’, I’m not so sure and mainly on the basis of the skirmishes we’ve seen between them. It seems to me Leclerc has slightly the upper hand in terms of out-thinking Max on track.

      1. @david-br yet yesterday Max’s positioning to set up that last overtake was spot on. He prevented Charles to take the best line through, all while staying clear of P1 at the DRS detection line.

        If Charles started the gamesmanship, Max took over and it won him the race.

        1. @mattds That’s true, we’re comparing too superb drivers, I very much mean on balance not always. Anyhow this season should provide a lot more material to go on.

        2. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
          28th March 2022, 19:40

          Both did great in both the first two rounds. We’ve seen some good hard fought clean racing and that is a win for us fans! Hopefully it stays clean!

          Though, I have to say… this DRS gaming is getting a bit much for me. This happened last year at Jeddah between Max and Lewis as well. It’s a little off putting when both driver are locking up tires to avoid being the first one to cross the detection line. They are no longer racing at that point, IMO. It becomes a battle in who can get the unfair DRS advantage. I’m not blaming the drivers, they are just using all the tools that are allowed and available to them.

  10. I love how Verstappen (champion*) over radio calls “Its not fair, its not fair!” and Leclerc “Great racing, congrats Max!”

    1. Then you listened very selective ( surprise;)
      Max call he enjoyed the battle with leclerc and was the first to greet lec in parc ferme.

      1. VER radio was broadcasted in live TV. Everybody was able to hear his whining, also about bad Leclerc crossing the pit entry line.

        1. Thats your problem. You do not take the time to listen to the onboards and make up your own mind.
          You still howl with small wolves ;)
          In both cases btw he was right.. Lec crossed the pitentry line ( a potential penalty) and he did closed in during the yellow flag period.
          But i prefer those things not said by the driver but it shows he has an enormous insight you so obviously lack completly ;)

          1. Poor you with your blinded pro-Max reality

          2. u just forgot to mention Max closed to Charles under VSC.

          3. @hamiledon it’s not Max’s problem he was better than Leclerc yesterday when it came to staying just above +0 on the delta.

    2. Noting that one was after the race ended and the other during the race

    3. While I thought Max’s call was a bit silly, I will acknowledge he made it while the battle was ongoing – he may have just needed to vent (he does seem to get frustrated fairly readily). Charles’ “great racing” was after he’d crossed the line.

  11. These battles between Leclerc and Verstappen are much more clean and respectful than Verstappen v Hamilton. Could it be because they have known each other since childhood? Or because Max has won the title? Could this indicate that if this goes to the wire Charles will be Max in that situation? Of course they have shown that they can hit each other as they did in Austria some time ago.

    1. Why missing the simple answer.. Lewis is missing in the equation.
      Since his black flag attack on max in Silverstone the game changed.

      1. U seem to mistake silverstone with Monza and Jeddah. Those were on purpose black flag attacks by your beloved Max.

        Silverstone was just stubborn overaggressive Max, who took himself out.

        1. nope it was a deliberate attack and always should have been black flagged.
          But giving lewis such a penalty in his homerace was not possible for those stewards. Hence the appalling behavior after the race.

          1. He wasnt even fully at fault. Stick to the facts

          2. If I could make a suggestion, how about you throw in the occasional comment praising Lewis or criticising Max once in a while to make your opinions sound a bit more credible? Everything you write is so comedically biased, it’s hard to take you seriously.

          3. What’s fool. Welcome to F1.

          4. I agree as did the stewards that Lewis was to blame but I find it hard to believe he’d deliberately make contact at that speed. The chance of continuing is minuscule but he was incredibly lucky.

      2. Not everyone believes that incident was quite so simple, and the large number of controversial incidents (including the FIA pre-selection) poisoned what wasn’t a particularly positive relationship in the first place.

    2. @qeki
      I think the biggest difference is that at the end of last season Max was leading the championship and the only driver threatening his championship was Hamilton. Therefore it was in Max’s interest for both of them to retire, if the option was that Hamilton would win the race. I’m not saying that he caused any collisions on purpose, but clearly he at times had “win it or bin it” attitude.

      At the moment he can’t afford to retire as it is not clear whether other drivers than him and Leclerc can fight for the championship later on.

      1. @hotbottoms That’s definitely part of the calculation. For Max, Sainz is almost a big a threat as Leclerc. And Leclerc is also effectively competing with Sainz at the moment.

    3. @qeki Well, it wasn’t the case in earlier seasons when we saw both Max and Charles pushed each other off-track. This behaviour seems new for this season, from both of them. Maybe there are various factors, including the race direction ‘under new management,’ so perhaps they’re on best behaviour for the while. I think I’d want to wait to see more races, though, before speculating any further.

  12. Title should really read ‘Verstappen beats Leclerc to win after safety car robs Perez’. That was spectacularly bad luck. Really don’t like the free stops under the safety car, but there’s not much that can be done about it – if they go the other way and ban stops again, then that’ll be equally unfair to those who haven’t stopped. Just got to hope it evens out over the course of a season, but it rarely does.

    1. @tflb
      I think Leclerc was going to overcut Perez nevertheless. Ferrari tricked Red Bull into pitting Perez and Perez came out just behind a slower car (I think it was Russell). It would’ve been close without the SC though.

      1. @hotbottoms I don’t think he would have… Perez would have had a mighty final sector and main straight (where RB were much quicker than Ferrari) and would have benefitted from the tow from Russell plus DRS. He had, what, an almost 2-second lead over Leclerc and a good pitstop, so I think he would have stayed ahead, just about.

  13. I loved the “hard but fair” (TM) racing, but I have to admit I miss the times when we didn’t have team radios, at least in this case. Verstappen whining all the time, I didn’t enjoy it at all… Lambiase was right: “keep your head down and race”.

    1. Agreed but its the director that decides to broadcast things and they like the Netflix narrative. So to support that they selectively broadcast remarks..
      And while he was right in both cases i do prefer a silent driver.
      I hated the constant whining and moaning by lewis so i do not hope max follows that terrible path.

      1. Max is already so much worse

      2. You’re a sad person. Do you need to make everything about Lewis? I know he’s a 8, sorry 7 times world champion. #rentfree #humanerror

        Max and his constant whinging… oh how it must hurt your ears.

    2. I have to agree, Max sounded like a crybaby while not a peep out of LeClerc, just awesome race craft. Off topic: I wish Nando was back in the other Ferrari.

      Also, I love when JB is in the commentary box. Cool and collected, everything he said was on point, and when he shares a little about the inner workings of F1 strategy etc it keeps me captivated. Wouldn’t mind seeing him on the track for one more go!

  14. I never give VER the time of day, and I thought his wheel to wheel race craft/situational awareness was lacking when compared to say Alonso, but credit where it’s due today. Very measured and responsible driving.

  15. Did anyone notice that when VSC took place VER was 1.6 behind LEC, but when it became green again, he was right on his tail?
    Should F1 try to clarify this issue or not? VSC is a good way of speeding cars down, but not everyone does it evenly and hence it tends sometimes to be unfair

    1. You know about the delta’s right? you can give some so you can gain somewhere else. I think Max nails the VSC ending good.

      1. I know about the delta, I judge the situation by the result not typically. The delta isn’t there to gain but to maintain. The fact there is an area to exploit should be discussed. A race (or sometimes a championship) is determined by such things

    2. @petrucci F1 already clarified this issue back when Perez did almost the same thing to Grosjean (I think he managed to close a 2.4 second gap that way) back in 2019. As long as the driver is positive to the target time, it’s fine. Drivers who are at the start of an acceleration zone when the flags are withdrawn are at an advantage compared to those who are partway through the zone – especially if the one at the start of the acceleration zone remembers their mini-sector circuit map and plans accordingly.

  16. Leclerc and Verstappen both gained over Sainz and Perez and then lost almost all of it taking the last section of the lap slowly when they did start racing. That could have happened if they were on a straight and the front two were going into a corner. What Verstappen did was predict when the VSC would end. He was probably at the slower end of his delta times then sped up on the last lap to catch up getting marginally more heat into the tyres than Leclerc ready for racing to restart. This helped him through sector one meaning Leclerc did not have the chance to stretch his gap through sector 1 to 1.6 -1.7 seconds as he’d done on previous laps.

    1. VSC rules cars should maintain their gaps, hence the existence of delta for getting this done. If Delta can be manipulated in such a way so that a car closes the gap by the end of the VSC, it should be revised and enhanced. Max probably didn’t do something illegal, but the truth is that a significant amount of time for his win was won under the VSC

    2. Can confirm Michael’s hypothesis is correct for Leclerc and Verstappen.

  17. Superb racing again between Verstappen and Leclerc. These two are operating at an amazing level. Long may it continue!

    Unlucky safety car timing for Perez – a lost win.

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