RACE DEBRIEF

    Lewis Hamilton came out on top in a titanic battle with Max Verstappen to secure victory in the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. That leaves the duo level on points heading to the finale in Abu Dhabi. Managing Director, Motorsport, Ross Brawn discusses the key talking points from Jeddah…

    It’s the season that keeps on giving

    This sport has had everything this season – and it gave us even more on Sunday. So much intrigue, so much tension, so much fighting between the two main protagonists. It was just sensational.

    I think it’s been 47 years since we went into the last race with both contenders on the same points and I think everybody wants to see a fabulous contest in Abu Dhabi.

    READ MORE: How a pair of crashes provided the ‘sliding doors’ moments in an electrifying Saudi Arabian GP

    It will be tough. Neither will give an inch, but we want a sporting competition. We don’t want to step over the line. We don’t want this championship to be decided by stewards' decisions and to end up in the appeal courts or elsewhere, it must end up on the track in Abu Dhabi with the best driver winning.

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    Jeddah provided the spectacle of more wheel-to-wheel racing by the title rivals

    My Driver of the Day – Lewis Hamilton

    For me, Lewis gets this accolade this week. I think he did the better job. He kept a cool head in the heat of battle, he managed the race impressively, he didn’t make mistakes and he set the fastest lap with a car that had half the front wing hanging off.

    FIA did a strong job in challenging circumstances

    I’d like to compliment the FIA and Race Director Michael Masi in handling well what was an extremely difficult race. I know some people feel some of the decisions were controversial but I don’t.

    FIA Race Director Masi explains key decisions in crackling Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

    The situation you had with Max and Lewis at the restart, when Michael recommended that Max drop behind Esteban and Lewis, was handled well as the alternative was to report him to the stewards and that could have ended up with a time penalty.

    I think Michael dealt with it pragmatically. This type of discussion goes on several times during a race. If a driver gets by someone or defends unfairly, the Race Director will tell the team to correct the position.

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    Hamilton came out on top of an action-packed race to keep the championship alive

    Some people seem to think Michael was doing a deal. He wasn’t doing a deal. It was simple: you accept the decision of the Race Director, with a known outcome, or it gets passed to the stewards to handle it.

    It was a tricky race and a tricky weekend. We’ve had a lot of challenges here, and I think everyone – the FIA, F1 and the teams – has pulled together to make this event work and it’s been a huge success.

    READ MORE: Verstappen gives his view on controversial Hamilton incidents, as he says it ‘wasn’t worth fighting’ after mid-race penalty

    Saudi delivers fantastic first event

    You are always a little apprehensive when you come to a new track, you don’t know how it will work. The Jeddah Corniche Circuit was certainly very testing and challenging. It took the drivers a little time to come to terms with it, but by the end of the weekend, they were complimenting the track.

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    The Jeddah Corniche Circuit provided an incredible spectacle on Sunday – and gave us a race to remember

    It was impressive how quickly this whole race was put together. It was done in a far shorter time than we’ve ever put a race together before. There were one or two rough edges that will be sorted out for the next race in March 2022. Inputs from all stakeholders will be considered and the track and venue will be honed for this next event.

    A fabulous first event, a fabulous track and a brilliant race.

    Thrilling race proves simulation tools work

    It was non-stop action all the way through the field. As we predicted and as our simulations told us, you can overtake around Jeddah. I think some were sceptical when they saw the track but I’m really pleased that the simulations that were done have proved to be correct as we want to to rely more on them to make sure that track designs are great for racing and existing circuits can be assessed.

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

    It’s one of the first new circuits where we’ve made these tools available to the designers, the manufacturers and the FIA and it’s been a fabulous track.

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    Ocon's growing confidence was clear to see as he found himself fighting for the lead on merit

    I’m looking forward to the finale in Abu Dhabi, too, as they have modified the track there, which I’m really pleased about as I think it will present a new challenge to the drivers.

    I think they are going to enjoy it a lot more. The simulations we have done show the new Abu Dhabi is a better racing track with more opportunities for overtaking. I’m keen to see what the drivers say about it. Make sure you’re glued to your seats next Sunday as this is going to be exciting.

    Ocon continues fine progress

    Esteban has really come through this year, maybe racing alongside Fernando has helped him. When you get an elder statesman and young charger, if they get on well, they can complement each other – and that’s what is happening at Alpine.

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

    He’s come on a long way. It must have been so frustrating for him to lose the podium as he was driving brilliantly before getting outgunned by Mercedes power on the line. But as well as his win earlier in the season, he will take a lot of confidence from his results this season.