Updated: Nov 22, 2022
Just 4 months after the first race in Jeddah F1 was back to the fastest street circuit for race 2. Nico Hülkenberg remained filling in for Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin while the 4x World Champion continued his recovery from Covid-19. After last season’s nearly perfect qualifying lap from Max Verstappen when He went into the wall at the final turn, it has been widened to give the drivers a better chance of faster laps. The track proved itself as fast as in December, with a red flag coming out within the first 5 minute of Q1 after Nicolas Latifi flew into the barriers. Fuel issues with Yuki Tsunoda prevented him from getting a single lap in and in the biggest shock of all Lewis Hamilton was knocked out of qualifying in Q1, for the first time since brazil 2017! With 5 minutes left of Q2 there was another red flag, this time following a dangerous crash from Mick Schumacher, and it was quite a relief to see him out of the car and hear he was responsive and should be okay. Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo were both knocked out in Q2, leaving Magnusson’s Haas in Q1 for a second race running. Q3 ended with Sergio Perez securing his first ever pole position in Formula One after 214 previous qualifying attempts, the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz separated Checo and Verstappen.
The race started with only 18 cars on the grid as Schumacher’s Haas was too damaged to race, and the team wanted to ensure Mick was fully recovered from his crash in qualifying, it was reassuring to see him in the pit supporting his teammate. Before lights out and during the formation lap Tsunoda’s car lost power and it was retired, it is notable that this was the second race in a week with AlphaTauri losing a car. Perez got away at the start on turn 1 and Verstappen managed to pass Sainz into third during the opening lap leaving the front four ordered, Red Bull, Ferrari, Red Bull, Ferrari. Lap 5 saw the start of the dramatic battle between Esteban Ocon and teammate Fernando Alonso as they battled for position. Normally I am against teammates battling it out, however in this circumstance I was all for it as this was such a respectful yet enticing battle with neither driver placing the other in serious harm and both enjoyed the race. Lap 15 saw both the Ferrari and Red Bull garages prepping for a pit stop, but only Checo pitted, whether this was a bluff by Ferrari to get Red Bull to go in early we don’t know but it seems likely.
This worked into Ferrari’s hands as a lap later a yellow flag and safety car meant other cars could pit without losing as much time. As the safety car went in on lap 21, Leclerc was leading, and he and Verstappen seemingly resumed their dramatic back and forth from Bahrain the week before. George Russell also managed to slide through the inside and overtake Magnussen to claim 5th, Checo was also asked to give the place back to Sainz due to him being ahead at the safety car. After lap 37 saw another yellow flag and safety car with Daniel Ricciardo retiring his car two other drivers in the form of Bottas and Alonso also retired their cars however Alonso's car stopped at the beginning of the pit lane and therefore during this yellow flag the pit lane was closed, meaning no drivers could use the yellow flag to change tyres. This particularly impacted Hamilton who initially wanted to pit and had to wait until the safety car had gone in meaning he then fell back after picking up places from starting 16th and ended up finishing the race in 10th, with a singular consolation point.
The last seven laps were action packed as Verstappen and Leclerc continued that back-and-forth rivalry for who would end up winning the race. Verstappen managed to get ahead of Leclerc nearing the end of the race and yet another yellow flag meant that victory was almost certain for the current world champion, who made it to the chequered flag half a second ahead of the Ferrari. Sainz then came in 3rd with Perez 4th and Russell completing the top 5, meaning that the Brit is now 4th in the overall standings behind the two Ferrari’s and Verstappen despite not having a car yet on a level to compete with them.