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Home Sports Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton wins Saudi Arabian GP

Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton wins Saudi Arabian GP

Lewis Hamilton kept his dream of a record eighth world title alive after victory in this explosive Saudi Arabian GP.

As he climbed out of his Mercedes F1 car he did a jig of delight while rival Max Verstappen was left fuming and stormed off the podium.

The fall-out from this drama-packed race will continue to spark into next week’s title decider in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton’s win, plus the bonus point for setting the fastest lap means he and Verstappen are tied in the championship going into the finale – some achievement considering at one point this season he was a whopping 32-points behind the Dutchman.

Hamilton battles Verstappen at Saudi Arabia GP
Hamilton battles Verstappen at Saudi Arabia GP

It will be their incident on lap 37 which will be the focus the THIRD time they have come together.

At Silverstone, the high-speed shunt that saw Verstappen taken to hospital was daggers drawn.

At Monza, when Verstappen landed his Red Bull on it was a case of him drawing first blood.

However, here in Jeddah if he is deemed to deliberately brake-tested Hamilton he would have firmly plunged the knife in.

This captivating title is reminiscent of the classic battles. Think Ayrton Senna versus Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher against Damon Hill.

This season has not only seen two committed racers on track, but it has been laced with allegations of dirty tricks and the actions of F1’s governing body will also come in for heavy criticism.

Ironically, this 50-lap race started pretty straightforwardly. Hamilton made the perfect start from pole and set about thumping out the laps to extend his lead.

Hamilton set fastest lap after fastest lap while the obedient Valtteri Bottas did his job as a tailgunner to hold off the threat of Verstappen.

But this track, self-proclaimed as “the fastest street circuit in the world” with its unforgiving concrete barriers and 27 corners was always going to have some bearing on the result.

It had played a part already of course, Verstappen’s accident in qualifying denied him a surefire pole position.

And so it proved on lap 10 when Mick Schumacher thudded into the barriers at speed at turn 22.

The much-maligned race director, Michael Masi, initially decided to deploy the safety car while Schumacher’s Haas was recovered.

Masi let’s not forget, works for the FIA – F1’s governing body; the same group of people who took FIVE DAYS to decide not to investigate Verstappen’s controversial defence in Brazil.

The ones who took an age to penalise Verstappen in Qatar with a five place grid penalty for ignoring double-waved flags.

However, Hamilton was given a let off for the same offence here in Saudi Arabia, and only picked up a ticking off for blocking Nikita Mazepin.

Consistency has been missing, and so it proved when Masi then decided to stop the race following Schumacher’s crash.

His delay in doing so meant that Merc had already pitted Hamilton from the lead and Bottas for hard tyres, promoting Verstappen into the lead.

The roll of the dice appeared to be a gamble that backfired as the subsequent red flag allowed Verstappen to change his tyres during the break in action.

Hamilton was furious, insisting the safety barrier was still in tact and that they should have been allowed to carry on.

“Why is it a red flag? The tyre wall looks fine,” he said. “Find out what the reason for the red flag is.”

After an 18 minute delay, the race resumed from a standing start and Hamilton made another excellent getaway.

He passed Verstappen, who was forced wide at turn one but contined over the kerb to hold on to the lead.

It was a slam dunk offence and he was told to surrender the place but what followed can only be described as a shambles.

First, the race was stopped for a second time. Masi deployed the red flag after another big shunt involving George Russell, Mazepin and Sergio Perez.

But then there was the damn right ludicrous situation with Masi offering Red Bull an “offer” of starting in second place on the grid for the restart.

Red Bull’s Team Manager Jonathan Wheatley submitted a counter-offer that they would accept the second-place on the proviso they were behind Esteban Ocon.

Masi, getting his maths wrong was then forced to correct his mistake and pointed out that Ocon was now in second, Verstappen would have to line up in third.

It was like a referee in football doing a deal with a manager over whether it should be a penalty or not.

And so, to the third restart with Ocon, who had started in ninth place, on pole.

Hamilton in second and Verstappen in third but on the quicker medium tyres.

Those tyres played Verstappen’s advantage off the line as his blistering start saw him leapfrog both Ocon and Hamilton into first place.

Hamilton then moved into second as this incident-packed race finally got into some sort of a rhythm.

But only temporarily as it again became punctuated by virtual safety cars as debris started dropping from the battle-scared cars.

And yet there was still time for more drama – and this was the biggest of the lot as Verstappen and Hamilton made contact.

In the laps before, Verstappen had held off Hamilton at turn one but in his defence ran wide and carried on.

The stewards told him to surrender his place and he appeared to slow, sending Hamilton into the rear of his Red Bull.

Livid Hamilton accused Verstappen of brake-testing him and his boss Toto Wolff exploded in a rage in the team’s garage.

He refused to surrender his lead, triggering the wrath of the stewards again in the form of a five second penalty.

And so when he did allow Hamilton to pass on lap 42, he then retook P1 in controversial fashion.

Finally, he did allow Hamilton past, who went on to take the chequered flag for his 103rd and most controversial of victories.

It means for the first time since 1974 the title has been level going into the final race and as the rockets lit up the Jeddah skies there is a distinct feeling there are more fireworks to come.

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