Verstappen’s racing savvy and Red Bull’s strategy deny Leclerc a second win

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix review

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The 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was a raw exhibition of the duality of modern Formula 1.

On-track, an enthralling display of wheel-to-wheel racing between two of motorsport’s highest calibre talents. Off-track, a deeply unnerving weekend where Formula 1’s commercial ambitions clashed with the inescapable political realities that come with being a truly global sport.

The ethical debate raised and amplified last weekend will linger on long after the fall of the chequered flag. But the trophies and championship points F1’s competitors had arrived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to contest were rewarded as planned, something which appeared in doubt at one stage, two days earlier.

Just 112 days on from a chaotic inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the second edition of Formula 1’s newest race saw a first time pole-winner, Sergio Perez, lead the field of 18 starters on the formation lap. In the paddock, Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda watched on as their colleagues lined up on the grid without them, having been prevented from doing so themselves for vastly different reasons.

Fire at Aramco oil plant after attack, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 2022
A missile attack left many questioning if the race should proceed
As the race got underway, Perez successfully converted his maiden pole position into the holeshot for turn one as the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr filtered in behind. With Sainz tucked up behind his team mate entering the second turn, Max Verstappen took advantage of the copious room on the outside to run clean around the outside of his former Toro Rosso team mate, taking third place in the process.

“I was squeezed a bit in between Checo and Charles,” Sainz later explained, “and I had to lift. This gave Max the opportunity to go on the inside, and pass me outside of turn two with a better run.”

Pirelli had brought their C4 compound as an option for the first time this year, but after qualifying teams decided they had no further use for it. Therefore, the race developed an oddly old-school flavour with only two compounds to consider through the 50-lap race distance. Just three of the 18 starters – Kevin Magnussen, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg – had opted to start on the hard tyres rather than the mediums.

At the front Perez, who has seldom led the early phase of a race, was looking confident. He gradually opened up a gap of around 2.5 seconds to Leclerc’s Ferrari behind and calmly relayed to race engineer Hugh Bird that his tyre degradation felt “steady” inside his Red Bull.

Aware how long the hard tyres would likely last through the second stint, Ferrari began plotting their move. Approaching the fast kink of turn 22 on lap 15, called their shot. “Box to overtake, box to overtake,” Leclerc was instructed, red overalls suddenly flooding out from the Ferrari garage.

The pair were rounding turn 26 when Ferrari’s message was relayed over the world feed television broadcast. Mere seconds later, as Perez braked for the final corner, Red Bull responded. “Box, Checo, box,” the leader diving into the pit lane as a result.

“Stay out! Stay out!”, Ferrari updated their driver. “Push for the overcut.”

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Despite their opposition successfully baiting them into giving them clear air, Red Bull and Perez knew they should have the benefit of warmer tyres by the time Leclerc eventually came into the pits to make the switch to the hards. But the calculations were wrecked when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams smacked the barrier at the exit of the final corner.

Start, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in pictures
The deployment of the Virtual Safety Car as Leclerc approached the crash site at turn 27 could hardly have come at a more opportune moment for Ferrari. Leclerc was able to casually roll into his pit box, take on the hard tyres that should see him to the end of the race and resume onto the track with only a red Mercedes AMG Safety Car in front of him.

Verstappen inherited second place while, behind, Sainz emerged side-by-side with the luckless Perez. The Red Bull driver crossed the white Safety Car line at pit exit fractionally behind the Ferrari, yet incorrectly assumed third place ahead of him.

Having started on the hards, and not wishing to attempt to run a set of mediums to the end from this point in the race, Magnussen and Hamilton stayed out. They gained three places each as those ahead pitted, all 17 runners now running on hard tyres of varying ages.

“We were unlucky there,” Perez’s engineer Bird commiserated his driver. “Leclerc and Max have got the jump on us.”

“Yeah, copy,” the former race leader glumly replied.

Early leader Perez lost out under Safety Car
Once the scattered shards of Williams were removed from the track, the race was set to resume at the end of lap 20 for what was effectively now a 30-lap sprint for the four leaders and their competitors behind. Leclerc waited until he was midway through the hairpin to stamp on the throttle and resume the race> Moments later, Perez handed back third to Sainz on the run to turn four to earn immunity from the stewards taking action against him, though Sainz was distinctly unimpressed this was not done prior to the restart.

Leclerc was now the one who had to be wary of those behind him – namely Max Verstappen, who never let the Ferrari’s advantage grow to over 1.7 seconds across the next 14 laps.

Despite the relatively mild temperatures around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in the evening air, Fernando Alonso – who had spent the early phase of the race locked in a spirited battle with his team mate – suddenly had a worrisome warning flash up on his steering wheel’s dashboard as he fought Magnussen’s Haas on lap 35.

“’Cool the car’ message,” he reported to the Alpine pit wall. “No power.”

As Alpine relayed various instructions to try and fix the ailment as the field behind flashed by him through the high-speed turns, panic then struck the McLaren pit wall too when Daniel Ricciardo in ninth place suddenly started to slow behind team mate Lando Norris, his car losing drive after crunching down the gears under braking for the final corner.

Ricciardo tried to reach the pit lane but his car came to a standstill mere metres from the start of the white line marking the start of pit entry. The Virtual Safety Car was called as race control closed the pit entry to allow for Ricciardo’s McLaren to be recovered, but not before Magnussen and Haas had taken advantage to pit and finally switch from the hard tyres to the mediums.

Mercedes had attempted to do the same with Hamilton, but despite getting the instruction to pit before the final corner, Hamilton appeared to miss his opportunity and was forced to remain out on-track until Ricciardo and Alonso’s cars were eventually cleared.

(L to R): Charles Leclerc, Ferrari; Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022
Verstappen grew wise to Leclerc’s tactical racing
When the race resumed at the beginning of lap 41, Leclerc glanced in his mirrors to see Verstappen barely a second away behind him. Over the final nine laps, it would be a direct fight between the pair of them with tyres of equal age to each other. But with both drivers having been virtually inseparable on the timing screens all weekend, there was a crucial difference between how the Red Bull and the Ferrari had been set up for the race.

“It was very difficult because we had two cars that were in a very different place,” Leclerc explained after the race. “I was very strong in the first sector, in all the corners, and basically much less strong in the straights. So it was very, very tricky.”

That top speed advantage for the Red Bull was evident with how rapidly Verstappen was able to gain on the leader down the pit straight the first time by after the green flag. Using the new 2022 aerodynamic rules to his advantage, Verstappen was able to stay within a second of Leclerc throughout the lap until approaching the final corner, when the Ferrari driver backed off – as he had in Bahrain – to allow Verstappen to cross the DRS detection line first so he could pass the Red Bull back down the straight.

“I basically knew that if I was leaving Max with a DRS behind for the main straight, I will basically be overtaken very easily,” Leclerc explained. “On the first lap, I braked very early and I got the DRS and manage to overtake back on the run to turn one.”

The second time around, however, Verstappen was wise to the Ferrari driver’s tactics, the pair awkwardly slowing to a crawl to avoid crossing the detection line.

Verstappen finally prised the lead from Leclerc’s hands
Eventually, at the end of lap 46 with just four tours remaining, Verstappen judged his approach perfectly and swept by the Ferrari as they crossed the timing line and keep ahead through the opening two corners. Leclerc fought back hard to keep in touch with the Red Bull, but a yellow flag at turn one after Alexander Albon hit Lance Stroll compromised Leclerc’s opportunity to make a lunge into the corner.

Verstappen held on over the final two laps to successfully fend off the Ferrari and take the chequered flag for his first win of the season by a margin of just half a second at the end of what had been a true sprint finish for the pair.

“Charles really played it smart in the last corner,” said the winner, “so it was not easy for me to actually get by.

“Once I was ahead, it was really like four laps flat-out trying to stay ahead because Charles was consistently in my DRS. So yeah, it was quite tough out there.”

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Leclerc, still the championship leader, could accept being beaten on the day during this early stage of the season. “It’s obviously disappointing to lose the win so late in the race but it was a fun fight,” he said. “We’ll try again next race.”

Sainz had to settle for third but was perhaps happier with his performance this weekend than the one he had put the week before in Bahrain which had earned him second place. Having lost the lead through a poorly timed Safety Car, Perez was magnanimous about what the win meant for the team after a scoreless first round.

“I’m very happy for Max and the team after the disappointment we had last weekend,” said Perez. “To get those results is really nice.”

The champion bounced back from Bahrain disappointment
George Russell achieved what appears to be the best possible on-merit result available for Mercedes in fifth. Ocon, seventh in Bahrain, went one better with sixth.

Norris gave McLaren some much-needed cheer and their first points of the season by dragging his car to seventh place, while Pierre Gasly fought off both Magnussen’s Haas and severe abdominal pain in the final laps to claim eighth. After his lowly 15th place start, Hamilton claimed the final point in tenth, several places further back than he might have been.

As the drivers cruised back to the pit lane fireworks illuminated the night sky over the Red Sea coastline, intended to celebrate a thrilling conclusion to the second race of the season. But they acted more as an eerie bookend for a weekend in which a very different kind of explosion had transformed the skyline on Friday.

Jeddah’s second grand prix had succeeded in providing an enthralling contest for viewers to enjoy and provided more evidence that the remaining 21 rounds could be equally riveting. There was also relief the race saw no further serious incidents, in a weekend when one F1 and one F2 driver had been ruled out of competition after brutal crashes at turn 10.

But beyond the spectacle of the competition on track, the severity of the accidents endured by drivers over the weekend and the danger of another kind witnessed by the paddock on Friday will leave Formula 1 having to answer some very uncomfortable questions about itself long after the last team member has finally left Saudi Arabia.

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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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69 comments on “Verstappen’s racing savvy and Red Bull’s strategy deny Leclerc a second win”

  1. Seems like every time Latifi causes a SC Verstappen wins.

    1. @paulk Yes, but this time the SC period caused by him hampered an RBR driver rather than benefitted.

      1. @jerejj, sure but Verstappen won all the same.

    2. Epic high level racing for the race win with 0,5s difference between 1 and 2.. and that’s all you can come up with?
      Must be a disillusioned Hamilton fan.

      1. Noframingplease (@)
        28th March 2022, 11:33

        @w0o0dy yep, while the whole world enjoyed a fantastic race where 2 drivers raced with respect, a big part of the racefans commenters (like @paulk) stayed in their ‘no I’m not biased Hamilton chair’

      2. Yes, really great racing and cars very evenly matched so far.

  2. If Verstappen was racing savvy, then Leclerc was equally racing savvy. Leclerc is really smart in defence, as we saw both yesterday and in Bahrain. I have no doubt that Max and Charles will clash one day but for now it is really nice to see.

    1. Having experienced the tactics from LeClerc I thought Max managed to apply them nicely. So pretty much equally smart. I think RedBull decided (with Max’s set-up) to lower drag and grip in order to gain enough high speed advantage to negate the small advantage that Ferrari seems to have in Bahrain and in all practice sessions in Jeddah. If that is the case they made the best projections about how this race was going to go… That’s very high level strategy and execution!

    2. @matthijs agreed. I think Leclerc was actually the better of the two in the wheel to wheel battle, but ultimately the Red Bull, with it’s incredible straight line speed and the lack of tyre wear on the hard tyre, was just the better package and unbeatable on the day.

      1. @j4k3 I think Leclerc belongs to the top tier of the current crop of F1-drivers, together with Max and Lewis.

        1. @matthijs 100% agree. He appeared to fall down the order in the minds of many last year due to being “beaten” by Sainz, but when you dig into the data, it was always clear he was in that step above.

          1. @matthijs @j4k3 I think CL is a top tier driver too, but I will just reserve putting him in the category of Max and Lewis until we see how he handles F1 pressure at it’s greatest, which will not come until the last third of the season and particularly the last few races, particularly if he is in a see-saw battle with Max. Not saying he won’t be able to handle the pressure…just that we will have to see. Right now he is likely feeling very little pressure and is highly buoyed by having the car he does. But what if RBR stays at lock step with them through the season and it comes down to the wire? We’ll just have to see, and personally for me, if it comes down to one final race and they’re tied going into it, my money is on Max. But I also reserve room for CL that even though a WDC fight to the end would be new to him, he might rise to the occasion and nail it. Such a duel might bring out more in him than even he knows right now. One race at a time though lol.

          2. @robbie that seems fair….as long of course as you were saying Verstappen couldn’t be put to the same level as Lewis until the last races of last year? ; )

          3. @j4k3 Lol I anticipated a comeback comment such as yours, and I appreciate that yours is of the friendly nature, and the thing is to me Max had already shown such WDC level driving that I already had no concern for him about pressure getting to him when at it’s greatest. So far CL has not shown us that imho but that is why I have acknowledged he may show us that yet, as the season is young. I suppose some of it is that CL hasn’t been in a season long WDC fight yet, and Max has, during which he showed why he is a deserving WDC’er (even if that WDC hadn’t come last year) and for me I just want to see more of what CL is capable of if, for example, the chips are down and RBR starts to erode further his lead, or he has a dnf, or what have you, and things start to play on his mind. Going to be fascinating to see, and I’m sure CL and his camp are thinking only positive and clear minded thoughts around relishing the opportunity and how it is upon having these opportunities that one gets the chance to shine. He’ll also need to block out what a formidable opponent Max can be. But hey, that’s sport, right? Such a mental game.

          4. @robbie agree there is always that element of unknown until they are in that exact position. For me, as someone who has followed leclerc closely from GP3, all through F1, I think I have seen all the qualities that suggest he will be fine in such circumstances, in much the same way you did with Max. His Baku F2 weekend always comes to mind as an example of showing he can handle things when times are tough. Ok, he hasn’t been near the front in F1 as much as Max was before he fought for the title, but he’s never looked out of place when he’s up there, and he seems to have the trait of putting in his best performances when there’s that sniff of a good result (last season probably gave the opposite impression to this as it was Sainz who popped in the podiums, but in reality, that was more through bad luck for Charles than bad performance).

            But as you say, the unknown is always there, and as a confessed CL fan, I can’t wait to find out!

          5. @j4k3 Good stuff. For sure I can’t say I followed CL prior to his entry into F1. It should be a great season and no matter what, CL is going to, and already is, gaining great experience, and he’s got a great career in F1 with which to continue to look forward and excel. Such a nice level headed guy too, and well spoken. And I always enjoy seeing rivals keeping it in perspective after the race, and that included right while the drivers were alongside each other after the checkered flag with their mutual appreciation of the battle they just had. Paid huge bucks to do what they love, and that always comes to the fore when it is hard fought and not a cakewalk.

          6. I’ve always ranked him a top tier. But let’s be clear about something, he was beaten by Sainz not “beaten.”

          7. I also always considered leclerc top tier, he already looked great in his first season at sauber, then beat vettel fair and square and took the lead of the team, proving number 1 is earned, not given, and even last year he was the one fighting hamilton with a much inferior car at silverstone, he got 2 poles, although in monaco he was the one making the quali mistake and he gambled again for a win in turkey rather than going for a safe podium, sainz is a driver who risks a lot less, and that type of driving from leclerc is normal in the circumstances, I’m sure he’ll take a lot less risks this year if he indeed is fighting for the title.

  3. The wheel to wheel racing this year really is thrilling to watch. I’m convinced there’s been an agreement behind the scenes on what is acceptable. None of the stuff that blighted last year is happening. Either that or as it’s early in the season there’s not the same level of pressure.

    1. I think these agreements have always been there, it’s just that sometimes driver go over the limit.

      These past years the cars also made it so every overtake had to be a do-or-die overtake. Drivers generally only had one shot at getting an overtake done (two at best) before their cars and tires overheated to the point where no further overtakes or even closing of gaps was feasible (unless you had a major pace advantage). Plus since you weren’t able to follow under 1.5s of a car, most overtakes had to be of the dive-bomb variety from way back. This also made it way more prone to get a crash as the end result due to locking of brakes, overshooting the corner on exit, or the other driver turning in too much.

      A lot of credit has to go to Brawn and his team for enabling there to be actual battles that don’t require drivers to push over the limit all the time.

      1. @sjaakfoo That’s a really good point about having one shot at the overtake last season and I hadn’t considered that. The thing that bothered me a lot about last season was the pushing drivers off track, but that’s not happening now at all. And if that’s because the regs are allowing for more patient battles that are now lasting several laps then that’s a massive win for the sport.

        1. @oweng @sjaakfoo Yeah I’m completely with you about the ‘one-shot’ passing attempts with the previous gen cars. But I also think that the season is early, and we may see some pushing off the track yet, however, I haven’t minded some of that when it was out of pure hard racing. Let’s see how the season unfolds and I’m sure we’ll see some pushing at some point as things really heat up.

      2. good point. VER even locked up his front tires at the 2nd attempt (lots of smoke) and going for an overtake the next lap (3rd attempt). It seems these tires can survive some lockups and allow for proper overtakes, without doing a do-or-die. That was impossible last years, as you stated.

        1. Indeed, seems they’re helping with the racing.

    2. Because it’s easier to overtake they are taking less risks hence less crashes

  4. and Red Bull’s strategy

    I don’t get the title of the article. Where was RB strategy evident, apart from ruining Perez’s race with a thoroughly incompetent call for box?

    If there was one single driver who really did not need to pit first, it was Perez:
    – being at the front in clean air
    – having no issues with his tyres
    – not yet having a lead big enough to come out ahead of the pack (thus getting stuck behind Russell)

    That call was botched as botched can be. Obviously they would not admit it after the race (all went according to plan, we just got unlucky, blabla) and Perez is not one to step out of line over issues like this, even though RB threw away a possible one-two finish.

    Ferrari tricked them and they fell for it. Just like Leclerc tricked Verstappen 5 times out 6 during these two races.

    1. You are forgetting that Max strategically went with a lower downforce set-up this weekend to play the strong points of the car. The low speed acceleration of the Ferrari is way better, degredation seems very good for them and downforce on the front is basically equal. So how do you get the upper hand then? You try to find a way to gain laptime (in this case top speed as it is easier on tyres and on fuel consumption to run lower drag.

    2. I think Leclerc was gaining on Perez, that’s why they called him in.
      Either that or they got tricked by Ferrari (Message to Leclerc: box to overtake)

      It reminded me off the good old days with Schumacher when the mechanics
      would run out the garage to trick other teams.

    3. That Pérez came out behind Russell should probably have made Red Bull doubt whether Ferrari’s “pit to overtake” ploy could have actually worked. Leclerc needed to close up to Pérez (which he did, though he was still outside DRS range), then pit so fast that he would come out ahead of Russell (unlikely) or immediately pass Russell on colder tyres (also unlikely given Ferrari seemed to need a some time to get new tyres in their optimal range – at least it was that way with the Softs in qualifying), and then gain significant time in just one or two sectors on Pérez before he made his stop, which would probably have been done on the next lap.

      Track position on a street circuit is still a big deal. Overtaking may be easier, but at these tracks there is a higher chance of a (V)SC – especially when drivers prepare to pit and start pushing – so pitting first from the lead on a street circuit is rarely a good idea.

    4. Are you forgetting that Pérez pitted under full racing conditions, whereas Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz all pitted under VSC/SC, so lost far less time doing so than Pérez did?
      If Latifi hadn’t crashed at the point he did, then Pérez might not have suffered so badly. Don’t immediately assume that it was a poor strategy call. If Pérez had stayed out, the Leclerc would have pitted (on the basis he was doing the opposite to Pérez) and _he_ would’ve been the one punished by the timings, and we could be looking at Pérez taking the victory.

  5. How is it savvy or smart to wait with the overtake for the second and longer DRS zone? Actually I was surprised Max even tried it the first time around, a sign that he is still is a little too impatient. However I wouldn’t necessarily say that this would have worked in Bahrain, too. Placing the car right and staying close for the second straight is trickier there, and he didn’t look to have the same amount of traction that Charles had.

    1. Sort of feels like some of the headlines are designed for a people to ask the questions you have, then for others to reply with something confrontational, then a big argument kick off between Verstappen and Hamilton fans again!

      Drive to Survive of the comments sections!

      1. You are probably right. One way or another, headlines are there to trigger a reaction in the reader. However, I fear that waving past with the help of DRS is now clever and exciting racing.

        1. I’ve enjoyed the battles between Verstappen and Leclerc in the 2 races so far. But I’m conflicted about how it’s happening and whether I think it’s a good thing. Especially when they’re both slamming on the brakes to avoid being first through the detection line.

          On one hand, times change and drivers are adapting their racing to the modern way of F1. On the other, DRS is a false racing tool that I would rather wasn’t in the sport at all.

    2. Leclerc probably did intentionally let Verstappen by that first time (as he did in Bahrain), but the move would probably have worked out fine for the world champion if he had gotten a better run out of the last corner. Red Bull was after all the faster car on the straights, and later laps showed that even with DRS Leclerc could not mount a serious challenge into Turn 1.

    3. I must agree. Max showed “racing savvy” only on the second attempt this race, after failing to do so 3 times last race and having a week to think about it, and still got outsmarted in his first attempt to do something other than “drive car fast”…

      1. @drmouse or, alternatively, these drivers have been racing all of their lives and it isn’t as simple as the general armchair fan makes it out to be.
        In Bahrain last week, the second straight was way shorter than the S/F straight, and the Ferrari had way better traction and acceleration onto the second straight. Both combined made it so that Max didn’t really have any other chance than to go for the overtake on the S/F straight and hope Charles could somehow not come back, because if Max himself had been the one to start the second straight in P2, then he wasn’t going to overtake on the second straight either way.

        Both raced to the respective strengths of their cars but the Ferrari was simply the better car in Bahrain.

        Yesterday it was more mixed, clearly, Charles not being able to pull the gaps when he wanted like he did last week. You could say he outsmarted Max once, but then you could say Max outsmarted him once as well: Max’s positioning before his decisive overtake was spot on. He made sure he just had his nose in there so Charles could not make the ideal line, meaning his entry on the S/F straight was compromised and Max had an even higher chance to make the overtake.

    4. @d0senbrot the savvy part was in carefully making sure he wasn’t first to the DRS detection line all the while still having his nose in there so Charles could not take the ideal line through the last corner. That’s playing very fine margins, and he did that very well.

  6. A very entertaining weekend in more ways than one.

    The fact that we ended up with some close racing and no major accidents has come as a surprise to many of us I suspect.
    There is still a great deal to be discussed about this venue but overall I feel it went far better than expected.

    Now what I want is for both Mercedes and McLaren to sort out their problems quickly and really tighten things up for the rest of the season :)

  7. The race had way more than verstappen v leclerc, that weren’t given their attention in this review

    Alonso vs ocon brought out a 4 car scrap for p5, magn vs Hamilton, Hamilton’s race in general besides that miscalled pit, Norris and ocons photo finish, and I’m sure I’m missing other key moments from the race too

  8. I have a question, on the restart Verstappen was alongside Leclrec, do the rules specify if they have to line up in two rows or a single file for a Safety car restart? I know in other series like DTM when they were restarting races they would split into two rows on the start finish staright like a rolling start. Or did Leclerc have a right to any line he picked? By lining up along side him Verstappen comprimised Leclerc’s run to the start finish straight on the last corner. Maybe Verstappen is the first driver to wake up to this loophole as everyone usually prefered to stay in the slip stream in the past years.

    1. The rule is that you can’t move ahead of the leading car, I suppose even 1cm should be enough.
      Leclerc has the right to choose his line, but in this instance Max kind of blocked the racing line.
      He tried the same thing last week in Bahrain but screwed himself by not being on the racing line.

      1. That rule needs a penalty applying for the crowding behaviour, the lead drive should have a right to position his car wherever he likes on the track and the second car alongside prevents that. Last year there was split seconds where Verstappen was overtaking Hamilton on the restart due to the crowding which should have been a drive through penalty because he deliberately chose to leave no margin to the lead car.

        1. Noframingplease (@)
          28th March 2022, 11:45

          @slowmo I have a feeling you like it when every inch of a dispute must investigated and penalized. Would be great racing when every minor detail is magnified to big proportions. Oh btw,… Max was last year an inch before Lewis but settled bag within a second. It didn’t influence the race.

          1. @nofanboysplease the lead car has earned the right to dictate the pace to the restart, crowding out the car is directly influencing their ability to do this. That being said I would have less issue with doing what Verstappen was doing if you allow the lead car to position properly but he was stopping Leclerc being able to take the line he wanted. If for whatever reason though you overtake the car in front, even for a second before falling back then yes I believe you should be penalised and there should be no ifs and buts, it’s clear in the rules that you shouldn’t overtake a car under the safety car.

        2. I don’t like it either but it’s allowed. If Leclerc wants to change lines, he risks touching Verstappen.
          They could make the rules simple, like staying behind the leader with all 4 wheels.

        3. Noframingplease (@)
          30th March 2022, 18:49

          @slowmo hey, can you explain why the more average opinion (please, see the video, and the comments) is more neutral on the behavior of this specific issue with Max, and why the more british oriented websites, like Racefans, people like you, always demand penalties?

          1. I explained why I feel it should be penalised, your view isn’t the “average” view. The only person framing an agenda is yourself.

    2. No, there are no rules on how to place the cars. The “line” drivers must be in is worded such that it only applies behind the safety car, not on the restart. Verstappen’s shenanigans of almost overtaking and thereby blocking the racing line are technically allowed, but obviously not really something his colleagues will be big fans of. Still, they can claim the racing line too.

      The fact that drivers have to mess around for a while is caused by the weird idea that the safety car must return to the pits ahead of the F1 cars. It’d be much easier to have the SC pull over at the timing line for sector 3, and then return to the pitlane after the F1 cars have all passed it. The medical car that follows the grid makes it back in time at every start, so that shouldn’t be an issue. By getting the SC out of the way, the leader would be able to pick up the pace immediately if so he chooses.

      1. This is a good idea for change, I would also back a reserve safety car and driver so in the event of a incident at restart the second car can take over anyway.

    3. What exactly was so great on hams race?
      He started with four cars behind and ended with three cars behind.
      His race to position 6 was because he did not had to stop on his hard tire. Not because of brilliant overtakes. He had some but list them later on.
      Mediocre drive.. A 6 at best.

      1. Wow, look out, here comes erikje with a Max hardon attacking Hamilton again when @Alberto didn’t even mention Lewis.

        1. Not sure I have to remind you, but hamilton got 4 from the website authors for this race! Hence a 6 is even generous, would’ve been 5 for me.

      2. your anti-HAM attitude is so stupid and tiresome.

        HAM had a good race given the problems in qualy, and was unlucky with the closed pit entry.

        VER again got advantage by a Latifi-caused SC, and by the yellows in the last two laps (where only he improved his best lap, which looks fishy again). But he also raced well this time, and kept it on a professionel level. Maybe he will get a legit WDC this year, when he doesnt mess up. With the current RBR he got the best car by now, so his chances are goof.

        1. @romtrain please stop this “unlucky with the closed pit entry” stuff. It’s blatantly wrong. He got a clear box call when he was still in the last corner, the pit status boards where clearly not flashing red, so he could enter but he didn’t. That’s on him. Magnussen came just behind him, and entered the pits with Ricciardo still in the exact same spot. Nothing unlucky about that, and either way it only cost him one place (to Magnussen).

          Verstappen’s fastest lap in lap 50 wasn’t anywhere near “fishy”. The yellows were out in S1, where he went four tenths slower than his personal S1 best. Nothing fishy.

          The current RBR the best car? Remains to be seen. The Ferrari was a clear best in Bahrain, while in Jeddah it was as evenly matched as it could be.

          Legit WDC? Yeah, I guess Hamilton fans will keep saying that. I guess they would’ve been just fine with a Hamilton title if he had won it due to the points Max missed in Hungary because Bottas forgot to brake. THAT would’ve been a “legit” WDC, right?

          1. Hungary – crashs at start happen sometimes. You hopefully dont believe BOT took the RBRs out on purpose?

            Rgd. pit entry you are obviously right. I just read the other article and was not aware. So valid point, HAM should have pitted – tough there would have been those who would have blamed him for that also.

            Imho RBR was the fastest car in Bahrain also, at most Ferrari was on the same level. But LeClerc drove smarter, thats why he was in front.

            4 tenth slower in S1, and still his fastest lap – wow. Ok, not fishy then but still remarkable. Dont want to look up the times myself, but trust you are stating true facts.

            Nice you are a VER fan, able to argue with relyable facts, instead of the pro-VER and anti-HAM lunatics.

          2. @romtrain no, I don’t believe Bottas took out Max on purpose. Nobody is that good. But those made for lost points that Max really would have earned – they were not lost due to his mistakes. Same for Baku, for example, nothing he could do about that.
            He drove well enough to not be called a paper champ. That’s disrespectful for the kind of performance he showed last year. I would argue he drove better overall than Hamilton (Monaco he was simply not good, he damaged his car in Austria resulting in dropping back two places, lost a possible win but a definite second place in Baku, might have won in Imola if he hadn’t gone off and was very lucky with the SC to recover to second, …).

            I have no idea how you can call the RBR the fastest car in Bahrain. Max got a few shots due to good pit strategy, but ultimately Charles could pull a bigger and bigger gap until he was out of DRS reach and then he could pull gaps just at will. No way RBR was faster there. It was also a very clear 2-4 with Checo never really threatening Carlos.
            I do wonder what you base yourself on to call Ferrari “same level at most”. There’s simply no facts to support that.

            Ah yes and as for the fastest lap, that’s pulled from F1 live timing app.

          3. @mattds as he was eventually gifted the title by the RD braking the rules, he is a paper champ for me.

            At Bahrain Max messed up the restart, and got outsmarted when he had the chance to overtake. I think he would have easily stayed in front, when he would have overtaken in turn 4. But it made no difference anyhow, due to the technical problems.

        2. It’s more about you being anti-verstappen than anyone else being anti-hamilton.

        3. I mean, calling him paper champion says it all, whereas 2015 with no competition whatsoever isn’t a paper title, 2016 for rosberg with massive luck compared to hamilton, who was the only competitor isn’t paper, 2019 and 2020 with no competition whatsoever for hamilton are also not paper, that makes no sense at all, 2021 is more deserved than any of these titles and of most in history, if not for anything else for the fact he won the driver’s title with a car that didn’t win the constructor, which happened I think only in 2008 and 1994 in recent times.

  9. It’s so interesting how Max and Charles’ fight is unfolding. I love Max bulldozer style, but I think this year he has a very smarter racer in his hands. The way Charles kept the fastest car behind him for so long it’s a testimonial of how hard it will be to beat him.

    Max will need more horsepower this year…

    In another note, Alonso still has that machiavellian racer in him. The way he got rid of Ocon, letting him vulnerable to Bottas, was fantastic to watch.

    At last, Mercedes sleeping in the pit wall right before the virtual safety car showed how their whole operation quickly decayed to a midfield team.

    Hamilton retirement is near.

    1. @becken-lima how were Mercedes sleeping before the VSC? They where literally warning him that he was in his pit window, they gave him a clear box call well in time. What else do they need to do?

  10. I enjoyed watching Max figure out what he had to do. Racing to pass (before hitting the DRS detection line) wasn’t giving him the lead.
    He actually had to learn/ understand and shift style .
    Bravo max.

    I love watching MOTO GP because of the last 5 laps strategies. This was very similar .

  11. How cool was that? Somewhere Ross Brown must feel really good about his team of FIA aerodynamicists.

    Just remove now DRS and we would be in excellent regulations, then let teams converge on pace.

  12. Max fans when Lewis doesn’t go for the overtake before the detection line:

    Max fans when Max doesn’t go for the overtake before the detection line:

    1. Hamfans when Hamilton screws up badly…… Silence…
      (or worse trying to make it as a great move)
      Hamfans when Max passes brilliantly.. “he was to agressiv, you can not pass like that”.
      Silly you.. :)

      1. shut up with all your stupidity

        1. The truth hurts, I don’t even need to go check the imola or baku comments of 2021 to know you didn’t criticise hamilton.

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