RACE DEBRIEF

    Jeddah's first Grand Prix included moments that divided fans and pundits everywhere, but what did the judges think? Let's get straight to it: the Power Rankings from Sunday's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

    HOW IT WORKS

    • Our six-judge panel assesses each driver after every Grand Prix and scores them out of 10 according to their performance across the weekend – taking machinery out of the equation

    • Our experts’ scores are then averaged out across the season to create an overall Power Rankings Leaderboard (at the bottom of the page)

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    An agonising 0.102 seconds off the podium, Esteban Ocon was the judges' pick in Saudi Arabia. The Frenchman picked up places and kept it clean at the start despite nearly being slammed into the wall by Yuki Tsunoda and picked up more places swapping tyres during the red flag and not during the preceding Safety Car. Sweaty palms followed when he was three-wide with Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton on the second restart but he kept a cool head and was only undone by the grunt of Bottas's power unit across the line.

    READ MORE: Ocon distraught after Bottas denies him Saudi podium – but warns that Alpine becoming ‘dangerous’ for rivals

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    The race winner was pushed to the very limit in Saudi Arabia. It might not have been his most elegant win but was one of his hardest-fought, Lewis Hamilton going toe-to-toe with Max Verstappen to level the championship standings heading to the season finale. He took pole position, fastest lap, and the victory in a contest that at times threatened to become downright ugly.

    READ MORE: ‘It’s all or nothing in Abu Dhabi’ says Wolff, as he trusts Hamilton-Verstappen fight isn’t settled by ‘messy situation’

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    Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi mustered up his second points score of the season with P9 and a pretty great display under the lights. The Italian clearly enjoyed his penultimate F1 race and said later that luck was finally on his side. Add to that a great deal of skill - not least his fantastic move on Fernando Alonso - as well as avoiding chaos in the first restart and holding off Lando Norris's McLaren by three seconds at the end.

    READ MORE: ‘Finally a bit of luck’ says points-scoring Giovinazzi as Raikkonen explains clash with former team mate Vettel

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    Fifth place, ahead of the rapid AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly and the solid Ferrari duo, Daniel Ricciardo was on Sunday the fastest midfielder bar former team mate Ocon. Like the Alpine driver, Ricciardo enjoyed the red-flag call having had a blistering start from P11 on hard tyres. Like Ocon, he also lost out to Bottas as the race went on.

    READ MORE: Ricciardo delighted with first points since Austin, as McLaren team mate Norris rues double dose of bad luck in Jeddah

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    Pierre Gasly enjoyed a race that was as quiet as they came in Saudi Arabia, the AlphaTauri driver having qualified a brilliant sixth before finishing there. He did lose places at the start but clawed his way back up and kept superior pace to the Ferraris behind to earn AlphaTauri some very useful points – and bring his tally up to 100 for the season.

    READ MORE: Points centurion Gasly ‘super happy’ to finish ahead of Ferraris in Jeddah, as Tsunoda apologises for Vettel crash

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    Lando Norris was somewhat unfortunate in Jeddah, losing out to his rivals by pitting under the Safety Car before the red flag. The McLaren driver made it to Q3 but was the sole top-10 starter on softs. After that inopportune pit stop in the race, Norris had to work hard to claw his way back up for the final point.

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    Charles Leclerc certainly had an eventful race for Ferrari, having qualified a stellar fourth ahead of Red Bull's Sergio Perez, whom he tagged in the first race restart – while trying desperately to avoid the barriers awaiting on his left – before duelling team mate Carlos Sainz throughout. Leclerc eventually made it past the Spaniard (who was on medium compounds) on the last lap, as his hard tyres held up.

    READ MORE: Leclerc says P7 finish a 'shame' but relishes race-long battle with Ferrari team mate Sainz

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    Just behind Leclerc in the Power Rankings for Saudi Arabia is his Ferrari team mate Sainz, who started a disappointing 15th. But the Spaniard declined to pit from hards during the first Safety Car and found himself duelling Leclerc – keeping just out of trouble – even breaking ahead. But of course, in the dying moments Sainz's tyres began to drop off and he had to concede P7 to Leclerc.

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    A podium clinched right on the line by just 0.102s. It was the result Team Principal Toto Wolff clearly wanted but the execution may have left a little to be desired as the P2 qualifier fell down the order and struggled to recover. He was hampered by the double-stacked pit stop Mercedes orchestrated under the Safety Car but the Finn didn't help matters with a lock-up in the next restart, leaving him stuck behind Ricciardo for a number of laps ahead of that finish-line smash-and-grab for P3.

    READ MORE: Bottas fights back for last-gasp podium in ‘intense’ penultimate race for Mercedes

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    Second on Sunday, Verstappen accrued two penalties during the race in his attempt to stop Hamilton getting past for the lead. Who could fault the Red Bull driver's determination? After all, he has a maiden World Championship to think about. However, he did miss out on pole position with a final-corner crash on Sunday and was deemed to have caused an accident on Lap 37 for a 10-second post-race penalty. The judges scored him a seven; the fans voted him Driver of the Day.

    READ MORE: Horner admits Red Bull ‘need a miracle’ to win constructors’ championship in Abu Dhabi

    Missing out

    AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda, who qualified eighth but ended the race 14th, missed out on the top 10 this time around.

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    Ocon earned the judges' plaudits after his performance in Jeddah

    THE OVERALL STANDINGS

    Despite Verstappen's score of 7.0 and Hamilton's 9.0, the Dutchman still tops the leaderboard on 8.9 to his rival's 8.4. However, Lando Norris has moved down a place having lost a couple of decimals, as has Carlos Sainz. And Daniel Ricciardo re-enters at the expense of Sergio Perez, who did not finish on Sunday.

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