What the teams said - Race day in Saudi Arabia
Perez lead from pole and controlled the early part of the race, not putting a foot wrong. But the team pitted him first and a lap later the Safety Car came out, giving the two Ferrari cars and his team mate a free stop and leapfrogging them ahead of the unlucky Mexican. When that shook out, Verstappen found himself behind Leclerc for the lead, and he was able to maintain better tyre temperatures through the final VSC period to get a run on the Ferrari. They traded places a number of times over a multi-lap battle as they did last weekend, but ultimately this time it was Verstappen who prevailed to take the victory.
Max Verstappen, 1st
"It was a tough and crazy race today. I had a lot of fun battling with Charles again, I really enjoyed it and it’s not easy to get past him, patience is always key, especially if you want to fight for the Championship. In the beginning it was pretty difficult to follow but I think once we swapped to the hard tyre we were able to push more and the pace was better. We played the long game on the tyres which seemed to pay off. Towards the end of the race it felt like we were doing lots of quali laps, which was intense but really cool. Ultimately, we were able to win and we can be very proud of that as a Team. It wasn’t easy out there, but I think we maximised all that we could today. It was really unlucky for Checo with the timing of the safety car but we have plenty of races ahead of us where we can make up for it."
Sergio Perez, 4th
"I think sometimes when you don’t have the right luck you cannot win the race, especially on crazy tracks like this, it knocks you down. I think I dominated the first stint and I was comfortably in the lead and had the race under control but unfortunately that wasn’t enough. At first, it was a virtual safety car so I was going to lose a position and then under the safety car I lost out to Carlos too. It was the worst timing straight after my pit stop and made regaining P1 impossible after that. It was a bit of a shame I couldn’t get Carlos at the end to be on the podium but I didn’t get the chance. There are definitely a lot of positives to take from this weekend, yesterday putting it on pole and today having the race pace. So, we will keep pushing and working hard because today I really deserved the win but bad timing stopped that. I am really pleased for Max and the Team that we got a good result today, it could have been a one, two but unfortunately, we didn’t get it."
Christian Horner, Team Principal
"What a great race, it was a very strategic race from Max, not taking too much out of the tyres and making sure he had enough left to attack at the end of the Grand Prix. There was some great racing between him and Charles, it was fantastic to watch, thankfully he had enough to hang on right at the end there. It is desperately disappointing for Checo because he drove an incredible lap yesterday to get his maiden pole, he then converted that from the start to keep the lead and was controlling the race beautifully. He pitted on the lap we discussed before the race and then bang a safety car, and he was very unlucky today. It was great for the Team to rebound after the disappointment of Bahrain, everyone has worked very hard over the past week to understand and address the issues that we had. The first two races have delivered great racing between the two teams, Ferrari are very quick and we are expecting the competition to continue over the next few races."
Leclerc was keeping Perez honest at the start, before inheriting the lead thanks to a fortuitously timed Safety Car. From there, he looked in control, but a late VSC helped Verstappen in P2 to close the gap. From there, the Ferrari man defending hard, losing and retaking the lead twice before it was third time lucky for Verstappen. As for Sainz, he managed to keep Perez at bay but didn’t have an answer to the speed of the two frontrunners.
Charles Leclerc, 2nd
"Although I’m disappointed to lose the victory so late in the race, it feels good to be fighting for wins again. Whenever I had a bit of margin to Max (Verstappen), I could manage the race well. But after the Virtual Safety Car, as soon as he got in the DRS range, it became difficult.
"He was fast in the straights and I was fast in the corners. You have to play on your strengths as much as possible when it’s this tight. I regained my position twice but the third time it did not work out. I could have possibly had another opportunity if it weren’t for the yellow flag at the end of the race, but that’s part of the game. It was a really fun battle!
"I hope it stays this close for the coming races. It’s exciting to watch and to drive like this. Development will be key and we have to push hard."
Carlos Sainz, 3rd
"I had a very good launch at the start but I ran out of space on the right and Max got better traction on the inside line.
"From then on, the race was quite straightforward, even though I would have expected to have been given back the position ahead of Checo (Perez), as I came out of pit lane ahead of him, while the Safety Car was still out. Having to wait for the restart to get back to third meant I could not try and fight for second place..
"P3 is a good result and overall, this has been a fairly positive weekend, definitely better than one week ago in Bahrain. I feel we are going in the right direction with this car and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before we are fighting a bit further up the order. We have a clearer picture of where and what we need to improve and we have a direction to follow. I can’t wait to go to Australia after two years without racing there."
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal and Managing Director
"This evening, we were all treated to a great show with two strong drivers fighting for the win. In the end, it didn’t go our way, but once again we were competitive. It’s been a great start to the season, with 78 points scored over the two races, out of a possible total of 88. That’s definitely a significant figure and we can be pleased about it.
"Charles and Carlos both did well and were clear thinking, especially at the key moments, which helped in bringing home as many points as possible. A few incidents affected the outcome, but having said that, congratulations to Max and Red Bull who were very strong today. We move on from a positive weekend and head for the next two rounds in Melbourne and Imola, where we will try to get the most out of our car."
In what was an action-packed race, Russell had a surprisingly quiet evening. He duelled with Magnussen briefly but always looked in control and came home ‘best of the rest’. But his team mate had a more eventful time. Opting to start on the hard tyre, Hamilton didn’t pit under the Safety Car and then wasn’t able to pit under the VSC either after the pit lane entry was closed. That wrecked his strategy and by the time he bolted on the medium compound, it was very late in the day to make much difference. He managed to scrap his way back to the points, but it was only P10 in the end for the former world champion.
Lewis Hamilton, 10th
"Balance-wise, the car felt good, but just not fast enough. The end result isn’t great but the race was going relatively well, I was struggling with tyre temperatures at the beginning but then I started to gain on the cars ahead on the Medium tyre, it was a really good stint. I was keeping up with George and putting in some decent lap times considering how old the Hard tyres at the end. We were unlucky with how the VSC played out at the end but I was giving it everything. Yesterday made the weekend so much harder and I take that on my shoulders. It’s gutting but we need to keep fighting, it’s all we can do – I know I’ve got a great team and we’ll just keep our heads down."
George Russell, 5th
"It was a strong race in terms of maximising our potential points today, the car felt good but we’re just lacking downforce because we can’t get the car to run close to the ground. We got the car in a nice window and I was pushing as hard as I could, it was probably the most physical race I’ve experienced in F1, 50 laps at the limit on a fast street circuit – I just want to be doing it fighting for victory. Everybody is working as hard as they can to close the gap to Red Bull and Ferrari, every single person at Brackley and Brixworth wants more and we’ll continue to push until we close that gap. This first part of the season isn’t packed with races, the calendar isn’t too dense, so it gives us some time to find solutions. We aren’t here to fight for P5 but you’ve got to take the positives. The race was enjoyable to drive, this track is probably in the top five of the year, incredibly fast and with fantastic grip."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Today’s race was the reflection of where we currently stand. The performance gaps seemed to be similar in qualifying and the race, and clearly there is a lot of work for us to do in order to get into the fight at the front. George managed his race well and scored the maximum we could have hoped for today without any incidents ahead of him. For Lewis, it was always going to be a difficult afternoon from P15. The first Safety Car came too early to run to the end on Medium, so we stayed out like other cars that started on Hard; then we missed the opportunity to box just before the pit lane closed under the VSC, which cost us a couple of positions. The overall picture is sobering, and it’s clear that we need to continue working hard if we wish to deliver a stronger performance in Melbourne."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"It's been a tough weekend and we need to go back and regroup ahead of Melbourne. The circuit here has been more difficult for us than Bahrain and we're under no illusions where we stand at the moment but we need to remain focused and effective. We have an enormous challenge ahead of us, but over the last eight years the team has been able to get on top of every performance issue that we have faced. We've been able to do that because we have so many talented and dedicated people in the team both in Brackley and Brixworth. We certainly have our work cut out over the next weeks and months but we are more determined than ever to get ourselves back fighting at the front."
Alpine livened up proceedings early on by letting their drivers race across a number of laps, Alonso in the end getting the better of Ocon before the team sensibly told their drivers to hold station. Both benefitted from a free pit stop under the Safety Car and it looked like the Spaniard would lead the duo home before he lost power late on and was forced to park out on track. Ocon did come home in the points, but had to work hard in the late stages to fend off a feisty Norris over the line.
Esteban Ocon, 6th
"It's some good points scored again for us and I'm happy overall with my race. The fight with Fernando was enjoyable. It was hard, fair, wheel to wheel racing, which reminded me of the karting days. With these cars, you can really race and follow, which is good for the sport. It’s a shame we couldn't put both cars into the points but we're showing that we're competitive and we must continue that. It was an exciting end to the race as well just beating Lando [Norris] to the line. It felt a bit like redemption for last year!"
Fernando Alonso, DNF
“We don’t know what happened yet but we’ll investigate the issue tonight. We did lose a chunk of points today, but it’s good to see the car performing well tonight and all weekend. I think we deserved sixth place today and we were having a good race, so it’s bad luck we couldn’t get to the end. The battle with Esteban on track was fair, we always respect one another out there. We had some close fights in Bahrain too and always try to do the best for the team. I was a little bit faster during the race and so I made the overtake and I had to watch out for Bottas as well. We could have scored double points tonight, but we are still fourth in the championship and we go again in Australia.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal
“We have mixed feelings from today’s race and, in general, it’s another strong result, which underlines our competitiveness. It’s a great result for Esteban to finish in sixth place. He’s been solid all weekend and it’s good for him to convert a strong qualifying performance into a healthy bag of points. We do have a taste of disappointment that we were unable to put both of our cars into the points with Fernando unfortunately retiring from the race after driving very well all evening. We’re investigating the issue to see what exactly has occurred. It’s clear our car has the potential to fight for big points as demonstrated by both of our drivers tonight. We’re happy to let them race hard and fair as, in the end, having both drivers extracting the absolute maximum from the car is what we’re here to do. Everyone at the team will continue to work hard on our return to Enstone and Viry to best prepare ourselves for Formula 1’s highly anticipated return to Melbourne in two weeks’ time. Well done to everyone at the team, we’ll keep pushing!”
Ricciardo pitted the earliest and looked to be struggling for pace, but he then started to make his way back through the field in an encouraging showing. But he pulled over late on with a lack of drive, ending his evening early as reliability caught up with the Aussie. Norris had fought his way into the top 10 early on, seemingly able to extract good pace from the medium compound. His car came alive late on too as he was able to keep heat in the tyres, and he was very close to pipping Ocon across the line but had to settle for seventh.
Daniel Ricciardo, DNF
“The end result was obviously not what I wanted, but this weekend was more promising and we performed better on this track. We’re still not where we want to be, but this was a small step in the right direction. Without the issue that ended my race we could’ve had both cars finishing in the points. It's positive to see Lando get some points for the team after a decent battle. We've still got a lot to improve but we’re in a better place than Bahrain. So, we’ll take that, keep working, and build from here.”
Lando Norris, 7th
“I think we can be satisfied with P7 and some decent points, that was the aim for today. We would have loved to have got P6, and maybe it was possible, but we’re still happy with P7. It’s a real shame about Daniel because we could have had two cars in the points today, which would have been a very satisfying day. It’s good to see that there was a bit more pace in the car today, and we can make progress. But we’re still not where we want to be, so we’ll keep pushing.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“P7 today. Six points. We’ll take that. Starting P11 and P14, our target was to stay in the race, make good strategic decisions and get back into the top 10 with Lando and Daniel, who did a great job all weekend of maximising the package we have at the moment. The entire team worked very hard to achieve that. Thanks to everyone at the track, back in the factory, and our colleagues at Mercedes HPP, for a huge effort this week. P7 was a good result for Lando, and the reward everyone deserved. Special mention for our pit-crew who did two excellent stops again today. We also have to apologise to Daniel. Without his mechanical failure we would have had both cars home in the points. We’ll analyse the exact cause of his DNF when we’re home.
“We know we need to keep working hard in order to deliver more performance to the car, so points like today are great motivation to keep pushing. The team will head home tonight after three intense weeks in the Middle East and take a short break and reset before gearing up for Melbourne.
“Last but not least, moving away from our own race, it’s great to see another fantastic, thrilling grand prix. Formula 1’s new regulations are doing what they were designed to do, creating real drama with cars being able to follow closely. It’s very encouraging for an exciting, dramatic 2022.”
AlphaTauri’s reliability woes continued, with Tsunoda struck down again as he had been in qualifying. He lost drive on his way to the grid and didn’t even make the start line. That left it up to Gasly to get some points which he managed, although he had to work hard for them with Magnussen and Hamilton breathing down his neck at the end on fresher tyres.
Pierre Gasly, 8th
“I’m really happy with how today went and glad I’m coming away with points. We got really unlucky with the safety car, as we boxed around 30 seconds before it came out and so dropped down the field, which wasn’t ideal. We managed to make our way back up though to P8, so really pleased with that. From my side the last 15 laps were really difficult, I had some pain in my intestine and it was really difficult to race. I’m feeling good in the car though, I’m able to push the way I want to, but I think we need to just find some more downforce. We know the areas we need to improve so we just need to go away and find the solutions now.”
Yuki Tsunoda, DNS
“It’s been a really frustrating weekend for me with reliability issues. Firstly, we missed Qualifying and then today I believe we had a driveline issue on the way to the grid. I think the track was suiting our car quite well, compared to Bahrain, so I think the pace today could’ve been quite good for us, especially if you see how Pierre has performed, getting through to Q3 and then his performance in the race. It’s such a shame, I think it’s going to be very tight in the midfield battle, so getting points at every round counts and we’ve missed out today. These things happen though and hopefully we’ll come back strong in Australia.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director
“There is not much to say about Yuki's race as it never got started due to a driveline issue, so in this respect, beyond the frustration we all feel right now, we have a lot of analysis to conduct to ensure that this issue is understood and addressed for the next race. Pierre's race was also not straight forward, with the timing of the safety car costing us track position, but fortunately a subsequent VSC provided an opportunity to get back on terms, allowing us to finish in eight place. In addition to these challenges, Pierre has also reported not feeling well in the last laps of the race, which has impacted his performance, but he dug deep and kept the Haas behind in difficult circumstances, so we are thankful for that. We leave here with mixed emotions; on the one hand we have scored points, but on the other hand there is for sure more to extract from the package. If we can execute a clean weekend, especially with Yuki, there are more points to be scored per race, therefore we will be working hard to deliver a better team performance in Australia.”
Franz Tost, Team Principal
“Congratulations to Oracle Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen for this fantastic victory today, it was a great battle between Max and Charles and a really enjoyable race to watch. I also would like to congratulate the organisers of this Grand Prix, there was a good atmosphere, I think the fans enjoyed the race and I’m very much looking forward to coming back here.
It was a difficult race for us, it’s always disappointing when a car isn’t able to make it to the starting grid. We had a problem on Yuki’s car with the oil pressure, therefore we had to stop. We now have to go away and investigate what the reason for this was. As for Pierre, we started from ninth position, we struggled in the first stint and couldn’t quite get up to pace, so the Mclarens were able to overtake us. We were also a bit unlucky because we pitted him for the Hards just as Latifi crashed and the yellow flag came out, so we lost some positions, but then Pierre recovered very well, he could fight back and, in the end, finished in P8. This is the maximum we could achieve today. From a pace side we need to catch up, as currently we are not on the level that we expected to be at. We are now looking forward to going back to Australia, after two years of no race there.”
Haas opted to field just the one car after Schumacher’s shunt in qualifying, Magnussen the only driver in the top 10 to start on the hard compound tyre. It looked like a good tactic early on, but the timing of the Safety Car did the Dane no favours. He got a little bit of time back as he was able to pit under a VSC late on, and still made it two points finishes from two races. It could have been better, but it is still another solid performance.
Mick Schumacher, DNS
“I’m feeling good – to be able to stand here, not even being sore, just shows the safety and security of these cars. I feel fit but car preservation is important if we want to be racing in Melbourne, but we have the pace and that’s all that matters. The goal is still Q3 and points, so we will just have to delay that until Australia now.”
Kevin Magnussen, 9th
“The worst thing that could happen to us did happen as we started on the opposite strategy, on the hard tyre. Almost everyone else was on mediums and the worst thing that could happen was a Safety Car on Lap 16 or 17, and it happened on Lap 16. To still get two points is very good and the car was phenomenal again, it’s such a joy to drive. We did get a little bit of luck back at the end with the VSC but had that been a Safety Car rather than a VSC, everyone would’ve been condensed and with new tyres we would’ve scored big points again. The team has done a fantastic job and we bounced back from a difficult situation on Friday, so I’m happy.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It was a good day again and we got some points. Obviously, we planned to have more but we’re happy with what we got and as long as we keep scoring, we’re happy. We started on a different strategy – on the hard tyre – to most of the other teams and unfortunately the Safety Car came out at the wrong moment. Nevertheless, Kevin and the team fought back to get into the points which was fantastic to see again. Spirits are high here and we cannot wait to get to Melbourne to hopefully score some more points with both cars.”
Bottas continued where he left off last weekend, strong off the line and with plenty of pace to burn. He was involved in an entertaining battle with the Alpine pair and Magnussen early doors, and was closing down Alonso late on when he was called into the pits and forced to retire. As for Zhou, he had an eventful evening. A time penalty as handed down after he overtook Albon off-track and didn’t give the place back, and when he tried to serve that a mix up with the front jack man meant the car was touched and so that penalty wasn’t deemed as being served. A drive through penalty followed on a tricky day for the rookie.
Valtteri Bottas, DNF
“It’s a pity to retire from what had been a really good race until that moment, especially as we were looking good for P6 at least. The engine temperatures kept rising, we need to investigate what caused that, but we had to pull the car out as we didn’t want to lose the engine. It’s how racing goes, we now need to make sure we solve whatever issue it was and move on. Looking at the positives, the car is really good. We made another step forward from the previous race, even in the starts. We were doing a good job and enjoying some close battles: now let’s make sure we get back to scoring in Australia.”
Zhou Guanyu, 11th
“I want to think this was a good experience in terms of getting more confidence with street circuits in Formula One. It was useful, but overall the race was definitely far from ideal: we had the anti-stall kicking in at turn one, even though I had a much better start than in Bahrain, so we will need to understand what happened. I had made a good recovery from P18 and we were looking strong to bring home some points again, but the drive-through put us far at the back and that was it. Let’s hope for a smoother race in Australia, the car feels good so we can be competitive again.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“It’s a disappointing end to an evening in which we showed so much pace. We were on course to have two cars in the points again, but luck was not on our side tonight and we leave with nothing: Valtteri was stopped by a cooling issue when he was fighting for P6, while Zhou, who was recovering from the bottom after his car went into anti-stall after a contact with Ricciardo in turn two, would have been in the top ten if not for the drive-through penalty he was given. It hurts, but this is racing, sometimes, and all we have to do is pull ourselves up and make sure we keep delivering tonight’s speed at the next races.”
Another difficult day for Aston Martin. Hulkenberg opted to start o the hard compound tyre, but the timing of the Safety Car did him no favours and he then struggled with tyre warm up, dropping through the field once racing got back underway. Stroll had also pitted before the Safety Car on an unlucky evening, and he then tangled with Albon in the last few laps, the two colliding as the Williams man went for a move.
Nico Hulkenberg, 12th
“It was a demanding race, but I am happy with my performance considering my limited experience with the car. We put together a clean race, but unfortunately the events and opportunities did not really go our way. For example, the first Safety Car period was unhelpful because we were running a longer first stint on the Hard tyre – so that compromised our race. We gave it everything out there, but points were out of reach. I am happy to have helped the team by standing in again and I will remain on standby should I be needed again.”
Lance Stroll, 13th
“We did our best to try to hold on for a points finish after the late Virtual Safety Car period, but unfortunately two cars behind us were on a faster and fresher tyre compound, so there was not much we could do. It was a shame that we ended the final laps with some damage after a collision with Alex [Albon]. I felt I had left him space when he made his dive, but I have not watched the replays yet. There is still a long season ahead of us, so we will keep working hard to find more performance in the car for the coming races.”
Mike Krack, Team Principal
“We decided to split our tyre strategy today - Lance started on Mediums, Nico on Hards - and the Safety Car that was deployed as a result of [Nicholas] Latifi’s lap-16 accident at Turn 27 disadvantaged those who had started on Hards. After that, Nico was always on the back foot, but he drove a solid race all the same and ended up 12th. Lance moved up a place at the start, was soon passed by [Lewis] Hamilton, then reported a handling imbalance. Within a few laps of the end he was running 11th, but he then had a coming-together with [Alex] Albon, sustaining light damage to his car. He was forced to slow, but he brought the car home, albeit lapped. Obviously we are disappointed not to have scored any points today, but from here we will travel back to Silverstone, where we will work hard to improve our car for the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.”
Latifi was the first to fall foul of the walls in Jeddah, losing control early on and hitting the barriers with the front of his FW44. That ended his involvement at an early stage, and left Albon as the only representative for much of the evening. But the Thai driver didn’t see the chequered flag either, trying a move on Stroll late on that went awry, the two colliding and Albon picking up enough damage to have to park his car down in the run off area. He was handed a three-place grid drop for the next race, for causing a collision.
Nicholas Latifi, DNF
“Unfortunately, I lost the rear going down to the final corner and that ended my race.
“I took the same line as I have across the weekend, so it was unexpected but obviously both disappointing and frustrating.”
Alex Albon, DNF
”We were trying to fight our way into the points at the end and I went for the move with Lance. He made a strong defence and unfortunately, we made contact. We had to retire due to the puncture, but the points were almost there, and we had to go for it.
“We were lacking downforce and the balance with the car can be tricky but when it’s in the window it’s actually a decent car. At the end of the race we were pretty quick, it’s just about trying to make the car more consistent and predictable.”
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
“A very frustrating end to three weeks away from home for the team. We completed a one-stop race with Alex using the preferred hard tyre for most of the race.
“Alex did well to manage his tyres during a long stint and through several safety car periods. There was a lot of attrition at this event, which we were expecting, and Alex was nearly able to benefit.
“He was able to race with Stroll and attack him on several occasions into Turn 1, but unfortunately in racing for 11th, there was contact, resulting in a front right puncture for Alex and the end of his race.
“The mechanics did an excellent job to repair Nicholas’ car overnight, but unfortunately Nicholas had a difficult race and lost the car at the final corner shortly before he was due to make his first stop.”
Mario Isola, Motorsport Director
"Another good night, another good race! Once more, in conditions that were completely different from Bahrain in terms of track layout and characteristics, we saw the latest cars able to follow and pass each other with some great on-track battles: which is down to the new tyres as well. The hard was the key compound to tonight’s race, with strong performance and almost zero degradation, as proved by Charles Leclerc’s fastest lap just two from the end on a well-used set. The medium also had quite low degradation, contributing to the one-stop strategy that we thought would be fastest and helping to deliver an exciting race from start to finish. The fastest race lap was also less than a second slower than the equivalent lap on the same compound last year. So putting all this together, it's clear to see how the new car and tyre package is so far delivering on all the hopes and expectations that we had for this year. Congratulations to Max Verstappen for the heartbreaking victory!"