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.
2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix race results
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||50||11.825||11.825||18|
|8||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||50||46.606||2.131||4|
|9||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||50||58.505||11.899||2|
|11||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||50||1’17.212||15.854|
|13||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||49||1 lap|
|14||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||49||1 lap|
|15||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||49||1 lap|
|16||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||44|
|Sergio Perez||Red Bull||14|
How the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix unfolded
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.
Further back, Perez spun after getting caught in the middle of a three-wide pincer, spun around the bows of Leclerc. Behind that incident, George Russell's Williams was slammed into from behind by Nikita Mazepin's Haas. The required a second red flag.
Following a bizarre exchange between Red Bull, Mercedes and the FIA on the radio about the restart grid lineup, Red Bull eventually accepted Verstappen dropping to third on the grid behind Ocon and Hamilton.
The second restart saw Verstappen – who switched to medium tyres – grab the lead in a wild sprint to the Turn 1 apex. Ocon ran wide this time – after being hit by Hamilton in a three-wide moment – and passed Max off the track, but immediately gave the position back. Hamilton fell to third, ahead of Ricciardo, Bottas and Gasly.
Hamilton passed Ocon for second on Lap 18, while Verstappen reported a lack of power as his battery was topping up on recharge. Hamilton reeled off a sequence of fastest laps, despite sporting some wing endplate scars and using hard tyres to Verstappen's mediums.
A brief virtual safety car was called after Tsunoda clashed with Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin at Turn 1. Soon after racing resumed, Fernando Alonso (Alpine) suffered a huge spin and continued, while Vettel collided with Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), which caused another quick VSC.
Hamilton got within Verstappen's DRS range just after half distance, before a third VSC period. Verstappen opened the gap out to 1.8s as the race went green again on Lap 33, and was back inside it when another VSC was required to clear up more debris.
On Lap 37 Hamilton got DRS on the front straight and got ahead but Verstappen dive-bombed him at Turn 1 and took them both wide but retained the lead. Verstappen slowed down to give him the place and, incredibly, Hamilton drove into the back of him – and then suggested Max brake tested him.
Verstappen was then told by race control to hand the place back and did so ahead of the final corner but then dive-bombed his way past Hamilton again, and got the bonus of DRS for the following straight. A lap later, Verstappen handed the position back again, with Hamilton pushing Max wide this time. While all this was going on, a 5s penalty was given to Verstappen anyway.
Hamilton won by 6.8s (11.8s with Verstappen’s time penalty), as Bottas passed Ricciardo for fourth on Lap 40 and passed Ocon for third on the finish line by 0.1s using DRS. Ricciardo finished fifth, ahead of Gasly, Leclerc, Sainz, Giovinazzi and Norris.
2021 Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix fastest laps
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||35||1’31.488||0.754||0.080||242.943|
|7||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||37||1’31.851||1.117||0.054||241.983|
|13||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||45||1’32.778||2.044||0.027||239.565|
|14||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||45||1’32.804||2.070||0.026||239.498|
|15||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||37||1’32.865||2.131||0.061||239.340|
|16||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||41||1’34.030||3.296||1.165||236.375|
|17||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||9||1’34.138||3.404||0.108||236.104|
2021 Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix tyre history
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||M||17||H||2||M||35|
|8||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||H||13||M||5||M||40|
|9||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||M||19||H||2||H||37|
|11||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||M||9||H||5||H||7||M||35|
|15||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||M||13||H||2||H||13||M||28|
|Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||H||14||M||2||M||29|
|Sergio Perez||Red Bull||M||17||H||3||M||1|
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