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6 Winners and 5 Losers from Saudi Arabia – Who impressed under the lights in Jeddah?

F1 Correspondent & Presenter

Lawrence Barretto
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Red Bull continued their perfect start to 2024 with a second successive one-two finish in Jeddah, as super-sub Oliver Bearman also impressed on his F1 debut. It wasn’t so successful for others, though. We’ve picked out our winners and losers from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Winner: Oliver Bearman

Oliver Bearman’s handling of his shock F1 debut in Saudi Arabia was textbook. The 18-year-old brilliantly absorbed the pressure of jumping in with just a few hours’ notice to drive for F1’s most famous team Ferrari in place of Carlos Sainz.

READ MORE: Bearman ‘destroyed’ after points-scoring Ferrari debut as he reflects on ‘good showing’ in Saudi Arabia

After a single hour of practice, he qualified a brilliant 11th, just 0.036s behind seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. The Briton went on to drive an assured Grand Prix, with crucial overtakes on Yuki Tsunoda and Nico Hulkenberg and a classy defence of Lando Norris to take seventh.

Opportunities to prove you have what it takes to deliver in F1 are few and far between. Bearman grasped his chance with both hands and delivered a performance that not only earned him the fan-voted Driver of the Day accolade but enhanced his chances of a full-time drive somewhere on the grid in 2025.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 09: 7th placed Oliver Bearman of Great Britain and Ferrari talks to

Bearman impressed many en route to a P7 finish in his first-ever F1 race

Loser: Lance Stroll

This was a weekend to forget for Lance Stroll.

While the Canadian made Q3 for only the second time in the last 12 races, he was still six places adrift of team mate Fernando Alonso (though he did say he encountered some issues on his final run).

Come race day, the Aston Martin racer clipped a wall, causing damage that subsequently pitched him into the barriers and out of the race.

READ MORE: Stroll says he needs to ‘reset’ ahead of Australia as he explains cause of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix crash

2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Stroll crashes out to trigger Safety Car in Jeddah

Winner: Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen’s ruthless grip on Formula 1 continued in Saudi Arabia as he controlled another weekend with aplomb.

The reigning world champion completed two laps that were good enough for pole in Q3 and once he got a clean getaway from P1, he cruised away at the front for a ninth successive win.

This was his 100th podium – only the seventh driver in history to achieve the feat – and will head to the next race in Australia having not retired from a Grand Prix for two years.

READ MORE: 'It's 88 missed podiums!' – Verstappen reflects on 100th F1 rostrum appearance as he praises ‘fantastic’ Bearman

Losers: Alpine

Alpine’s pain continued into Saudi as the A524 was woefully off the pace. Both cars were booted out of qualifying in the first segment, their best lap 1.3s off the pace.

On Saturday, Pierre Gasly didn’t even get the chance to compete as a gearbox issue (he lost sixth gear and the synchronisation of all the other gears) on the formation lap forced him to retire.

Esteban Ocon made a fight of it in the race and at times flirted with the edge of the top 10 when the field compressed following a Safety Car. But ultimately, he faded and crossed the line 13th. Upgrades are on their way – and they can’t come soon enough.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 07: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine F1 A524 Renault on

It proved to be another difficult weekend for Alpine in Saudi Arabia

Winner: Sergio Perez

Red Bull have asked Sergio Perez to prove he deserves to stay at the team in 2025 – and so far, he’s done what they’ve asked, the Mexican snatching second off Charles Leclerc early in the race to make up for missing out on the front row.

He took the blame for the five-second penalty he received for an unsafe release – and subsequently wiped out that deficit with some very strong pace to comfortably finish second.

READ MORE: Perez admits error that sparked penalty as he reflects on ‘chaotic’ race to P2 in Saudi Arabia

That’s back-to-back second-place finishes to start the season, leaving him second in the drivers’ standings while helping Red Bull build a healthy 38-point lead in the constructors’ championship.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 09: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull

Perez's performance in Jeddah helped Red Bull to secure a second consecutive one-two finish

Loser: Daniel Ricciardo

It’s been a difficult start to the season for Daniel Ricciardo, who knows that he is on Red Bull’s shortlist for promotion back to the works team in the future if he can demonstrate the turn of speed and consistency that has characterised most of his career.

In Saudi, the RB driver lost significant time at his pit stop (Racing Director Alan Permane said the team had a problem with the tyres) and that dropped him to the back of the field. Then a few laps from the end, he took too much kerb and spun. A frustrating end to a frustrating weekend.

READ MORE: ‘Hungry’ Ricciardo says 2024 season feels like ‘second part’ of F1 career starting

Winners: Haas

Haas entered the season fearing they would be at the back of the pack and struggling to keep up – but the reality has been positively different.

In Saudi, the American team split the two cars during the Safety Car period, with Nico Hulkenberg going long. He showed strong pace in clear air, and with team mate Kevin Magnussen – who picked up two time penalties for infringements - backing the pack up behind, he had enough time to complete his mandatory pit stop and rejoin in P10.

It was impressive teamwork that yielded what could be a crucial point – Hulkenberg’s first in 20 Grands Prix (not including Sprints).

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 09: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari

Some good teamwork at Haas enabled Hulkenberg to secure his and the squad's first point of the season

Losers: Mercedes

Mercedes fell down the pecking order in Saudi Arabia, the Silver Arrows emerging as the fifth fastest team behind Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin.

While Lewis Hamilton took hope from their speed in the medium and low-speed corners, they were in a world of pain in the high-speed turns, with the car bouncing in those corners.

READ MORE: Russell reflects on ‘frustrating’ Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as Hamilton predicts ‘challenging’ races ahead for Mercedes

That meant they lost acres of time in the first sector – boss Toto Wolff said the team were losing around half-a-second in three corners where they were uncompetitive – and ruled them out of challenging for the podium.

2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Leclerc fights off Perez challenge to keep P2 on the race start

Winner: Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso was one of the happier drivers post-race, the Spaniard feeling like he got everything out of his Aston Martin on his way to fifth, beating a McLaren, a Ferrari and both Mercedes cars.

This was his second successive points score and came after a qualifying session where he missed out on a front row starting spot by just 0.055s. He may be the oldest driver on the grid at 42 – but he’s showing no signs of losing his edge.

READ MORE: Alonso hails ‘step in the right direction’ for Aston Martin after battling with rivals en route to P5 in Jeddah

Losers: Kick Sauber

For the second race in succession, Zhou Guanyu rose up the field to battle in and around the points – but a slow pit stop (where the team encountered the same issue as in Bahrain) dropped him to the back of the pack.

Valtteri Bottas had a decent start, but the team said yellow lights signalling “a potential stalling car forced him to brake” and that cost him a string of positions. Like Zhou, he struggled to get hard compound tyres into the optimal operating window and thus a second race passed without either car scoring points.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 09: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Kick Sauber C44

Kick Sauber are yet to score a point following another tough race for them in Saudi Arabia

Winner: Oscar Piastri

Oscar Piastri delivered an assured drive that built on a strong qualifying performance and yielded an impressive fourth-place finish in Saudi Arabia.

READ MORE: Norris insists strategy gamble worth a shot as Piastri left ‘very happy’ with P4 in Saudi Arabia

Fourth was McLaren’s best-ever finish in Jeddah and the Australian’s finishing position shows how far the team have come relative to last year – the team having failed to finish in the top five in any of the opening eight races last season.

Race Highlights: 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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