RACE DEBRIEF

    The new regulations continued to deliver enthralling racing in Saudi Arabia, leaving some delighted and others frustrated. We’ve picked out six winners and five losers from the race around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

    Winner: Max Verstappen

    Max Verstappen was furious with his performance after qualifying, the Dutchman lamenting “terrible” grip, which meant he was “sliding everywhere” – but in race trim, Red Bull’s RB18 was a different animal.

    Verstappen launched attack after attack until he finally broke Charles Leclerc’s staunch defence to snatch victory, his first of the season and 21st of his career, on what was the 28th anniversary of his father Jos’s F1 debut in the 1994 Brazilian GP.

    READ MORE: Verstappen ‘really happy to kickstart the season’ after winning out over Leclerc in sensational Saudi race

    He still trails Leclerc by 20 points in the championship, but that won’t worry him much considering there are still 21 races to go. What matters to him is that he’s on the board – after failing to score in Bahrain – and that he didn’t lose a second successive wheel-to-wheel fight with Leclerc.

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    Verstappen celebrates his opening win of the season

    Loser: Sergio Perez

    Sergio Perez deserved so much more than fourth place after a stunning lap on Saturday gave him his first career pole, in what was his 215th race weekend.

    He made an impeccable getaway and controlled the race with ease in the first stint but was undone by a Safety Car the lap after he pitted, which gave his immediate rivals a free stop.

    From there, the win was off and a podium just a step too far. But he can take plenty of confidence from his supreme pace, the car’s strong speed and reliability, and the fact he has some solid points on the board.

    READ MORE: How Verstappen solved the tyre puzzle to win in Saudi Arabia

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    Not to be for Perez, with bad luck ruling out any chance of a win in Jeddah

    Winners: Ferrari

    Ferrari may have lost a second successive victory in the closing stages in Jeddah, but the famous red team are not panicking. This is, after all, their best start to a F1 campaign since 2004.

    P2 for Leclerc and third for Sainz gave them 33 points, leaving them 40 clear of next best Mercedes. It was the first time they got both cars on the podium in consecutive races since 2019.

    For Leclerc, he’s already scored more podiums in 2022 than he did in all of 2021. For Sainz, it was his third-straight podium and 17th consecutive points finish. Ferrari have the momentum – and are making the most of a package that looks like world title-contending machinery.

    READ MORE: Leclerc says ‘every race should be like this’ despite losing stunning Saudi Arabian GP to Verstappen

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    Two cars in the mix up front and a double podium is a good return for the Scuderia

    Losers: Alfa Romeo

    Alfa Romeo showed the type of pace in Jeddah that warranted a second double points finish in as many races – but they left Saudi Arabia with nothing to show for all that promise.

    Valtteri Bottas, buoyed by a better getaway off the line after his Bahrain frustration, looked mighty once more and should have taken P6 again, only for a cooling issue to force his retirement.

    Zhou Guanyu continued his fine start to life as an F1 race driver with a gritty performance that would have yielded points without the drive-through penalty he was handed. He ultimately finished 11th.

    Winner: George Russell

    George Russell does not celebrate fifth places, so high are his aspirations – but this was one of his finest performances, the Briton doing the best with what he’s got right now.

    READ MORE: ‘We’ve got a lot work to do’ says Hamilton after scraping solitary point in Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

    The Mercedes driver drove a lonely race to fifth, five places ahead of his more decorated team mate Lewis Hamilton to secure another top-five finish and keep the points rolling in while the Silver Arrows find a way to unlock the W13’s potential.

    2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Russell overtakes Ocon for P5

    Losers: Williams

    This was a race weekend to forget for Williams, whose mechanics did a stunning job to rebuild Nicholas Latifi’s car for the race only for the Canadian to crash out again on Sunday afternoon.

    His team mate Alex Albon showed encouraging pace throughout – and had an outside shot at points given the high attrition (only 13 cars reached the flag) but contact with Lance Stroll caused a puncture and he ultimately retired the car.

    Winner: Esteban Ocon

    After a tricky pre-season, Esteban Ocon has found his groove when it matters, the Frenchman following up points in Bahrain with his second top-seven finish of the year in Saudi Arabia.

    The Alpine driver held off a spirited attack from Lando Norris on the final lap to go someway to redeeming himself after he lost a podium to Valtteri Bottas in the final seconds in Saudi last year.

    MUST-SEE: The Alpine drivers enjoy heart-in-mouth battle in Jeddah

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    Latifi crashed twice in Jeddah in a weekend to forget for the Canadian

    Loser: Yuki Tsunoda

    Yuki Tsunoda needed an arm around his shoulder this weekend. First, a suspected water system issue forced him out of qualifying, then a driveline problem struck on his way to the grid, ending any hopes of making the start.

    The Japanese driver has shown glimpses of having learned lessons from a challenging campaign – and up until qualifying had shown the kind of pace that could and should have yielded points. He just needs to keep his head up.

    READ MORE: What the teams said - Race day in Saudi Arabia

    2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Fault ends Tsunoda's race before start

    Winner: Lando Norris

    Considering where McLaren were in testing in Bahrain and their performance in the race at the same venue, it’s an impressive turnaround that Lando Norris managed to bring home their first points of the year in Saudi Arabia.

    Six points is well below his and the team’s expectations – but it’s a start. And they can take heart from what Daniel Ricciardo – who was set to score before a mechanical issue - described as a “small step” forward in race two.

    Loser: Fernando Alonso

    Fernando Alonso lacked an edge on team mate Ocon for much of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend, but it was he who was the faster of the two when it mattered on Sunday.

    He came out on top in a tense fight with the Frenchman in the opening sequence of laps – and showed the pace to fight for P6. But a sudden loss of power forced his retirement.

    WATCH: Bottas, Alonso and Ricciardo all retire within a lap of each other in Jeddah

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    Alonso had an entertaining tussle with his team mate in the early stages

    Winner: Pierre Gasly

    Eighth place is not something Pierre Gasly is usually pleased with after a surge in form of late. However, he’ll be making an exception this time around – given he was screaming with intestinal pain in the last stint of the race.

    The Frenchman lost out when he pitted just before the Safety Car, but fought his way back into the top 10 from 14th to score his first points of the season.

    HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the thrilling 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix