The second round of the 2022 Formula One World Championship will be held on Sunday, March 27th, following the success of the red Ferrari in Bahrain. This weekend, we'll all be in Jeddah for the exciting Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which Englishman Lewis Hamilton triumphed in a Mercedes last year. The Jeddah circuit, which is located on the shore, is one of the quickest on the calendar, with an average speed of roughly 252 kilometers per hour, second only to Monza. Despite the fact that it is just in its second edition, it was previously anticipated that this would be the final race held on the Jeddah street track on the Red Sea's coasts. In fact, according to the present contract between the promoters and Liberty Media, which runs until the 2030 season, the organizers' primary goal is to relocate the Grand Prix's headquarters to a permanent circuit in Qiddiya, a district of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Just a few weeks ago, however, the communication arrived: thanks to the delay in the official construction of the circuit in Qiddiya, the one in Jeddah should remain in the world regularly until 2023 inclusive. The holding of the Grand Prix is questioned due to the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, basically for the control of Yemen. In the previous week, missiles and drones hit various areas of Saudi Arabia, including the city of Jeddah, the venue of the race, and the region of Jizan. However, event organizers downplayed the incident, stating that all necessary measures were taken to ensure the safety of all spectators, as well as participating personnel and the media. Even before the start of the championship, due to the repercussions of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Federation cancelled the Russian Grand Prix scheduled for September, at the same time terminating the contract for the race to be held in future seasons.
Again, absent the German Aston Martin driver, Sebastian Vettel, still positive SARS-CoV-2 who has already forced him to miss the previous Bahraini Grand Prix. The team’s reserve driver, compatriot Nico Hülkenberg, will also replace the German driver this weekend. Instead, German Niels Wittich has been named race director, while former Formula One racer Enrique Bernoldi has been named associate commissioner. The associate commissioner are Enrique Bernoldi, Nish Shetty, Matteo Perini and Hasan Alabdali's. Nish Shetty sits on the FIA International Court of Appeal as a judge and is a permanent member of the National Court of Appeal (Singapore). He is also Chairman of the Disciplinary Commission of the Singapore Motor Sports Association and a national steward of the Singapore Grand Prix. Shetty has assisted the Association for many years as a legal advisor and committee member. In addition to being involved in the Singapore Grand Prix, Shetty has acted as a steward in the Singapore Karting Championship. Away from motor sport, he is a Partner and Head of International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution, South East Asia at global law firm Clifford Chance.
Matteo Perini began his motorsport career in 2005 and has been a National Steward in Italy since 2015. As one of the country's youngest National Stewards he has officiated in a number series including GT racing, F4 and TCR. His international experience began with stewarding roles in a variety of series. He has also acted as a permanent Steward in the F4 Italian Championship and from 2019 in the Formula Regional European Championship. He took part and completed the Global Pathway to become FIA Steward and nowadays acts as Steward in Formula 1. Brazilian driver Enrique Bernoldi had a stellar junior career, winning the Formula Renault Europe title in 1996, before twice finishing on the podium in Macau, and runner-up in the 1998 British F3 Championship. He combined F3000 with a stint as a Sauber test driver in 1999 and 2000, before making his F1 debut with Arrows in 2001. He made 29 appearances for Arrows over the next season and a half, with a best result of eighth. He followed this with spells as a test driver for BAR and Honda, then moved on to US open-wheel racing, Brazilian stock cars and sportscars.
Hasan Alabdali's involvement in motor sport organisaiton stretches back more almost 15 years, beginning with the Buraidah International Cup for cars and motorcycles before working in rallying, including working on the Hail Rally in 2010 and numerous cross-country events in the years since. In the same year he also took part in the Kuwait International Rally. Recently, he worked voluntarily on the organisation of the FIA Formula E-Prix in Saudi Arabia and in 2019-20 acted as National Steward for the race in Diriyah. The FIA confirms the three DRS zones adopted last year for this year: main straight beginning with the survey point placed at the entrance of turn 27, exit of turn 19, and curve 22 with the fixed survey point; exit of curve 17 and between the entrances of curve 25 and curve 27, with the survey point set at the entrance of curve 22. In comparison to 2021, the track has undergone some interesting improvements in order to improve safety given the single-high seater's speeds. The concrete barriers at Turns 4, 16, 22, and 24 have been covered with a smooth surface, with the exception of the section between Turns 2 and 3, where the barriers on the left side have been moved back to improve driver vision.
The barriers have been moved back 1.5 meters in curves 14 and 21 to allow for a better view from the car; finally, the track has been widened by 12 meters at the exit of turn 27 dues to safety concerns. In terms of safety, the FIA has installed electronic screens on the circuit at corners 13, 16, and 19, with the goal of reducing the number of rear-end collisions and major accidents that occurred last year. The FIA will test these new safety solutions on the Jeddah track first, with the possibility of expanding them to other circuits on the calendar if they prove successful. For this Grand Prix, as for the previous one, the FIA appoints the German Niels Wittich as race director. Former Formula 1 driver Enrique Bernoldi is appointed assistant steward. The Brazilian has served in this capacity on several occasions in the past, most recently at the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix. As in the previous race, the German car manufacturer Mercedes will provide the safety car and the medical car.
Monday, March 21, 2022, Formula 1 is delighted to welcome MSC Cruises, as a Global Partner for the upcoming 2022 season. The multi-year deal, which began at the FORMULA 1 GULF AIR BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX 2022, will see Swissbased MSC Cruises, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing cruise brands, become the Official Cruise Partner of Formula 1. MSC Cruises and Formula 1 are collaborating to bring some of MSC’s most technologically advanced and glamorous ships port-side during select Grand Prix weekends, enabling MSC Cruises’ impressive fleet to complement the high-end experience of Formula 1 and drive global visibility for its brand.
Through this unique partnership MSC Cruises will be able to leverage Formula 1’s growing global fanbase to showcase its extensive offering of quality holidays at sea and bring the thrill of Formula 1 to MSC Cruises global audience as its ships sail to more than 100 countries around the world and host guests from over 185 nationalities. As global leaders in their respective fields, MSC Cruises will also unite with Formula 1 to continue to drive towards sustainable change. Both companies have committed to becoming Net-Zero Carbon and are pioneering state-of-the-art environmental technologies and solutions. Stefano Domenicali, President & CEO of Formula 1, said:
"We are thrilled to announce MSC Cruises as a new Global Partner of Formula 1, bringing together two truly global brands. It is a perfect partnership with both of us focussed on delivering the best experience for our fans and customers globally and combining entertainment, luxury, and service. We are both committed to sustainable solutions, and MSC’s insight and expertise perfectly complement our global offering and will continue to enhance our brand".
Pier francesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman commented:
"There is a strong shared ambition between us and F1 as we are both committed to investing in research to accelerate the development and adoption of next generation technologies - both maritime and environmental in our case - to build the future of our industries in a sustainable way. We are both working to continuously improve environmental performance with a clear vision to build a lasting legacy for future generations. We are looking forward to developing our relationship together as this exciting season unfolds".
It is traditional to draw a single-seater at the end of each race for the technical inspections; Carlos Sainz's turn was last weekend. Following a comprehensive assessment, the Spaniard's car, which finished second on the podium in Bahrain, was determined to comply with technical standards. The bodywork, wheel coverings, rims, and fastening devices for the front and rear wheels are frequently checked during technical inspections. In the same way that some teams took advantage of the curfew allowed by the rule to make changes to the car in Bahrain, some teams took advantage of the curfew granted by the regulation to make alterations to the car in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday 23 March. This weekend is Red Bull's turn, and the company will face no penalties because the mandated curfew is the first of the Federation's eight curfews.
Important alterations were also made to Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly's single-seaters on Friday, March 25; in particular, the second unit relating to the internal combustion engine, the turbocharger, the MGU-H, the MGU-K, and the exhaust system was installed. Gasly's car also has the second unit, which is related to the energy recovery system and the electronic control unit. Other upgrades at Red Bull include the installation of a second turbocharger unit and MGU-H on Sergio Pérez's car. McLaren joins the list of teams that use the new technical restrictions to make pre-race alterations, with Lando Norris' car receiving a second gearbox and transmission. Alonso, Gasly, Perez, and Norris, on the other hand, incur no grid penalties because the number of replacement components is within the regulation's limits. The exhaust system has also been installed. Lando Norris arrives in Jeddah with a lot of confidence and before starting the race weekend he confesses to the media:
"I’m excited to be back at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. It’s a cool track and extremely quick for a street circuit. It kept us on our toes last year and it will be great to see how the 2022 cars run here. We're going into this weekend with our heads held high. Bahrain was a tough one, but we'll keep moving forward as a team and take everything we’ve learned from last weekend to make this one the best we can. I trust the team both here and back at the factory and I know they’re working day and night to make us stronger for this weekend. We know what we’re capable of achieving so we’ll give it our all and leave nothing on the table in Saudi Arabia".
His teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, adds:
"Last weekend was disappointing, but on the positive side, we learnt a lot about our car during the course of the race, which we can take into the Grand Prix in Jeddah. We’re looking forward to getting back on track at this incredibly fast and flowing circuit. The Bahrain Grand Prix was tough, and not how we wanted to start the season, but we’re putting together our plan to get higher up the grid. We know we might not get there in one weekend, so we’re focused on learning as much as we can at every event. There’s a long season ahead of us with a lot of opportunities and that’s exactly the case in Saudi Arabia. We’re going to continue to work as a team and help each other to move forward, that’s why Formula 1 is a team sport. We’ll keep at it, keep our heads held high and do everything we can to progress at every weekend".
McLaren’ team principal, Andreas Seidl, tries to give his team the strength it needs:
"The Bahrain Grand Prix was not how we wanted to start the season. It’s clear that we have work to do, so we’ll be working hard to bring more performance to the car as quickly as possible. The team are analysing our performance from Bahrain so that we can learn and improve, already starting in Jeddah. It's only the second race with these new cars and the new race weekend format so we must stay focused on all operational aspects. We're looking forward to going racing again in just a couple of days' time. Jeddah is an exciting track with some great features so it will be interesting to see how the new regulation cars run. Let's get back on track and keep pushing".
Among the teams that have started the season with some difficulties there is also Mercedes. But the team principal, Toto Wolff, does not give up:
"The new F1 season started in dramatic fashion. There were some great, feel-good stories up and down the field at the first race and Ferrari did a strong job to claim a 1-2 finish. For us, we made a step forward in terms of performance compared to the pre-season tests but were clearly third quickest behind Ferrari and Red Bull. We know the W13 has potential, and we need to continue learning, find out how to unlock it, and maximise our opportunities for points in the meantime. Lewis did a fantastic job to claim P3 and George drove a strong and mature race, making up places to finish P4. We scored the maximum points we could and more than we were expecting to. That's partly down to others' misfortune but reliability has always been a crucial factor in Formula One. Now we head to Jeddah and a very different track; fast, twisty and much of the lap taken at full throttle. We were there just a few months ago for the first Formula One race in Saudi Arabia, and with a new car and new tyres that we're still learning how to get the most from, it will be a steep learning curve. That's a challenge we're looking forward to".
Those who have started brilliantly, however, is the Scuderia Ferrari, and in this regard, Xavi Marcos, race engineer car of Charles Leclerc, releases his thoughts. Personally, how does it feel to be starting your 15th season in Formula 1?
"The first race of the season is always special, because it’s the start of a new adventure. This time however, it’s even more special because there are many new factors to take into account and I’m keen to find out, if everything we have done in terms of processes and procedures is taking us in the right direction and delivering the benefits we are expecting. Of course, we used the test sessions to do a sort of general trial run, but it’s only on a race weekend, with its pressure and expectations, that we can really judge how well we have prepared. Those pressures and expectations can lead to mistakes and we have worked with the entire team so as to be calm in managing all the various aspects of the weekend. We must concentrate on ourselves and work with confidence".
The cars are completely new: from a technical point of view, what do you think could make the difference on track this weekend?
"I think that, putting to one side the different car designs, whoever has done the best job in preparing for the season down to the smallest detail, will have a competitive advantage at the start. There are so many new elements involved and whoever has understood the new format better, especially the limitations involved, could have the edge for at least the first third of the season. When I say format, I mean the whole package: the completely new car, the little time available to work on it, the 18 inch tyres and also the fact the drivers must modify their driving style to suit it. All in all, whoever understands the limitations and opportunities of this more compressed weekend format, will have an ace up their sleeve on track".
And looking at the long term, given this is the first of 23 races, what factors could be key over the course of the season?
"Car development will clearly be the main element, but there are other key factors such as on-track organisation, which is my responsibility. Let’s not forget we are embarking on the busiest season ever in the history of this sport, so I think that now, more than ever, it’s the smallest details that can count when it comes to making every task more efficient. One of the aims will be to expand the flow of information between the engineers and the team at the track and those back in the factory".
It didn't go any better for the Aston Martin team, orphaned of Sebastian Vettel and in momentary technical difficulty. The replacement of the German driver, Nico Hulkenberg, says:
"After familiarising myself with the AMR22 in Bahrain last weekend, racing in Saudi Arabia will give me the opportunity to develop and further improve my understanding of the car. In addition, the work I did back in the simulator earlier this week has given me some extra insight and helped me prepare for this fast and flowing track. Obviously, I wish Sebastian a speedy recovery, but I am really looking forward to the challenge and will be doing my best for the whole team this weekend".
And his teammate, Lance Stroll, adds:
"Racing in Saudi Arabia last year was a step into the unknown, but now it’s the exciting challenge of taking what we learned from the first race and applying it to this season's race. The Jeddah circuit is the longest and fastest street track on the calendar, so that task is even greater. Last year, the multiple race disruptions were a constant factor, so we’ll need to be on our toes to capitalise on any opportunities".
Among those arriving in Jeddah in search of redemption is the Williams team, which through the words of Dave Robson, head of vehicle performance, admits:
"The second race of the year is an opportunity to see the 2022 cars at a very different type of track. The nature of the corners and the long straights in Jeddah will introduce some new challenges for the FW44 and whilst we have done a lot of preparation, it is likely that we will encounter something unexpected. This is simply the nature of taking a whole new car to such diverse tracks early in the season. We are looking forward to the challenge and to seeing how the new generation of cars tackle this high-speed street circuit. This is Alex’s first trip to Jeddah and so he will need some time to understand the track and to gain confidence in the car and tyres. Pirelli have brought tyres from the middle of their compound range and adapting the car setup to suit the tyre behaviour will be one of our major tasks on Friday, alongside managing any porpoising that may be induced by the high car speeds. There will be a lot to get through on Friday and we are keen to get the cars back on track and get that work started".
The Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi adds:
"I’m looking forward to heading to Saudi Arabia for the second race of the year. The track was a new addition to the calendar in 2021, but was definitely one of the most fun and exciting races. I also really enjoyed the combination of it being a night street race; that added to the atmosphere and was an interesting new challenge. Both myself and the team are heading to Saudi looking to building on the learnings that we took from Bahrain. We’re not starting the season exactly where we want to be, but there are some positives and we’ll continue to push to make sure things improve".
And Thai driver Alex Albon concludes:
"The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is a new track for me and not an easy one to get up to speed with, so whilst I’m looking forward to that challenge, I know it’s going to be a tough one. I think it’ll be a track that is a bit better suited to the characteristics of the FW44; it’s smoother with more medium and high-speed corners, so I’m hoping we go well there. The more running we do, the more we’ll understand this car and how we can work to maximise its performance, so I’m mostly just looking forward to getting back out on track".
Among the teams that have distinguished themselves in Bahrain we find Alpine, which with its pilots hopes to continue its evolution. Esteban Ocon says:
"In terms of points in an opening race, Bahrain was my best performance since I started in F1 so that is definitely a positive. Double points for the team made Sunday even better and when you compare our opening race last year, there is much to be happy about. It’s great that we are racing so soon after Bahrain and it will be key to carry this positive momentum into the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend. It was great to finally drive the A522 in racing conditions and very much looking forward to doing it all again in just a few days in Jeddah. We raced there not too long ago so the track isn’t as unknown to us drivers as it was last year".
And Fernando Alonso confirms:
"Both cars scored points which is the main thing for us from the first race. Last year we didn’t score any in Bahrain, so it’s already an improvement. The competition in Formula 1 is not only on track but off it too. At Enstone and Viry we have to focus on what’s ahead and continue to bring updates to our cars, so we can not only stay where we are, but make steps towards the front. The team is working so hard at both factories and at the track too. It’s a pleasure to see this all coming together and I’m really happy with what we’ve achieved so far".
Pat Fry, Alpine' Chief Technical Officer, concludes:
"It’s always good to come away from the first race with both cars scoring points and, just as importantly, learn more about how the car works in full racing conditions. We ran reliably on both the chassis and power unit when it counted with the odd hiccup here and there, which is expected at the first race of the season. We have a solid base to build from now and we’ll continue our learning this weekend. We don’t have any distinct upgrades for Saudi Arabia but we will run some interesting test items in practice, which will give us some ideas for future concepts. As it’s a low downforce circuit, we will have a different rear wing for this weekend and Esteban will return to the latest spec sidepod after the issue from last week. We have a development plan in place and we are pushing ahead as hard as we can for the Melbourne race and beyond".
Despite the mechanical problems that stopped the AlphaTauri in Bahrain, Pierre Gasly arrives in Jeddah with renewed confidence:
"It was a bit of a mixed weekend in Bahrain, we were very quick in FP1 but not so fast in the rest of free practice, although I made it to Q3 on Saturday and was reasonably happy with my race pace, with a double-points finish for the team seeming likely until my car stopped. The team has identified the problem and the fire meant the mechanics have had a lot more work to do than expected to rebuild the car for this weekend. We learned a lot about the car over the three days and it’s clear that the midfield is maybe even tighter than last year, so we must continue to work hard on understanding and developing the AT03, starting this weekend in Saudi Arabia. I was impressed with the Jeddah track last year, I qualified sixth and finished the race in the same position. It’s difficult from a driving point of view, very technical with a lot of high-speed corners, which is exactly the sort of layout I enjoy. Last year, we went well in Qualifying and the race, so it will be good to go back there and see what we can do this time. The early races in the season are always important, as it helps to start off on the right foot. We will have to prepare well to have a good weekend".
And Yuki Tsunoda is of the same mind:
"I was glad to score points at the end of a tricky weekend in Bahrain. Looking at what went well, we managed to limit the problem we had in testing with porpoising, although we struggled a bit more than expected in terms of pace over the weekend, especially in FP2. But as the weekend went on, we made progress and my team-mate managed to get into Q3, although I found it more difficult, especially having missed FP3 running due to a hydraulic line issue, and we know how much any lap on track counts. We can expect another challenging week in Saudi now in terms of car performance. Last year I enjoyed driving here. It’s a new generation track, and I especially liked Sector 1. My main focus this weekend will be on helping develop our car as much as possible and as quickly as possible, so that we can compete consistently at the top of the midfield. Because currently, we are not in a position to achieve the goals we have set ourselves for this season. Hopefully we can make a good step forward this weekend, get a better understanding of our car and find a few good ways to progress".
The Alfa Romeo team arrives in Jeddah with great serenity, after having managed to get both drivers into the top ten in Bahrain. Frédéric Vasseur, Alfa Romeo’ team principal, says:
"Starting the season with two cars in the points is a great feeling, and to be back on track within a week allows us to channel this enthusiasm and momentum into hopefully another good result. I was impressed, but not surprised, by how the team approached the weekend and by the level of confidence we had in our means: we know the whole team worked well during the year leading to this and we are eager to show the world what we can do. There is a clear feeling we have a competitive car and a determined pair of drivers, and this is boosting morale for everyone in the team. However, we are under no illusion about the challenge ahead: we saw how close the field is in Bahrain and how competitive qualifying and the race are. We know we need to be at the top of our game and deliver another good weekend: if we do that, having cars in the points is a realistic prospect".
After an excellent debut, Zhou Guanyu has every intention of repeating himself in Jeddah as well:
"Starting with a finish in the top 10 is a dream come true, but now it needs to be a happy memory: my focus is already on the next race and on keeping performing well. Every time I step into the cockpit is a chance to learn something new and to get more comfortable in the car: I know I have to keep working hard, not just because I know how competitive everyone around me is, but also because I demand the best of myself in every occasion. The Jeddah Corniche circuit is not new for me, as I raced there in F2 last year, but of course it will be a very different experience in this year’s F1 cars. The layout has changed but it remains an incredibly challenging track which requires 100% focus and punishes mistakes: still, it will be something incredible to tackle it with these cars".
And Valtteri Bottas is also hoping to repeat the same positive performance as in Bahrain:
"It’s nice to be back in the car soon after a good result. It gives us the chance to build on the strong performance we showed last weekend and fix the things that can be improved. It’s still early days in the season and we expect the balance on track to shift backwards and forwards as teams bring updates, but we are not standing still either and we are determined to stay on top of this curve. I see real motivation in the team and it was super to see the delight on the faces of everyone there. We are going in the right direction and Saudi Arabia will be another race in which we can fight for a good result: the track has undergone some changes to make it even quicker than it was last year. I am looking forward to driving the new layout and see if that suits us".
Guenther Steiner, Haas' team principal, at the beginning of the race weekend he gives the media his impressions of the work done so far, and of what is still to come. Race one of 23 completed - what are your key takeaways and how fair an assessment of the grid has been made following the Bahrain Grand Prix? How do you rate both driver performances over the weekend?
"I think we saw the speed of the cars and they will be similar until the upgrades kick in, but we still have to wait for a few more races, including street circuits, to know where everybody is at - Red Bull didn’t finish the last race but they will in future. Our drivers, from where we came to where we ended up was pretty good. Mick struggled a little bit more last weekend - in qualifying with his fastest lap having a little mistake and then in the race he got compromised by Ocon, who ran into the back of him, and he spun. That’s never good because you then have to clean up your tires again and you just fall back, but he will make this up in the next races".
After only three months, Formula 1 is back in Jeddah for Round 2 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship - the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. What were your first impressions of the event and such a short turnaround between the two races?
"I really look forward to going back to Jeddah. It was a very interesting race track which was very different to anything else. The organizers did a very good job last year to get the track ready at the last minute and for sure they’ve made improvements to the little things that were not perfect the first time around. I’m really looking forward to getting back there".
Saudi was a challenging race for the team last year. With changes being made to the track to aid driver sightlines, do you think opinions of the fast and flowing Jeddah Corniche Circuit will change?
"I think every race was a challenge for us last year but with Nikita running into Russell, it was a bit more than it was normally. I still need to see the changes but they know what they need to do in these high-speed sectors so you can see forwards a little bit more to help to avoid situations. I don’t think it will compromise how good the race track actually is".
We’re moving from testing and racing at permanent circuits such as Barcelona and Bahrain to a temporary street circuit in Saudi Arabia. Is the VF-22 showing signs that it’s a car that will be able to compete at a variety of circuits - in particular what are the strengths you’ve seen exhibited by the package at this early stage of the season?
"I think the car should be competitive everywhere, in some places more and some places less, but it’s the same for everybody. In general, I think this is good for the championship".
Next is the turn of Kevin Magnussen. The first weekend back as a Formula 1 driver completed - how did it feel and what were your key takeaways and learnings to put into practice this week?
"It was pretty unbelievable - to be top five was crazy. The car felt very good and we were able to push the entire race. We maybe had more degradation than we expected in the first stint but we made up for that in the second and got back on track. The team has done such an amazing job to get us into this position".
A new track for you, but it’s only been three months since Formula 1 first raced in Jeddah for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. It’s the second-longest track after Spa-Francorchamps and the fastest street-based course of the season, with a record 27 corners. What are your feelings ahead of tackling such an extensive race track?
"From watching on TV last year, it looked like a pretty spectacular track which is super high-speed considering it’s a street circuit. I’m really looking forward to it, I love street circuits and it looks like a challenging one so let’s see. I don’t know it of course, so it will take a few laps to get fully up to grips with it, but I’m looking forward to it".
What types of preparation can you do before getting on track on Friday? How vital is the team’s feedback and going through data going to be to learn a new track?
"It will be about watching a lot of on-board videos, looking at data to get an understanding of the driving style that is required for the different corners of the track and going through data on the evolution that the track goes through. Also understanding the tarmac, which kerbs are usable is important. Then it’s about doing the track walk and actually seeing it up close and then just getting up to speed with it in practice".
Knowing the VF-22 a little better now, how do you expect this new generation of car to handle across a very fast and flowing Jeddah Corniche Circuit?
"We’ve learned a lot from the car this weekend though but at this point it’s still difficult to say anything about the strengths and weaknesses of our car. Driving it, it doesn’t feel like it’s got any massive weaknesses, it’s balanced throughout different speeds but it’s hard to say whether the other cars are even more balanced than ours or have even more grip".
Mick Schumacher' best Grand Prix finish in Formula 1 in 11th place, and so close to getting your first points as well. How do you evaluate the opening race of the season?
"So close, yet so far. I made the call that I wanted to try and stay out and keep track position, which I now know was the wrong decision, but we’ll be better next time. The first race of the year is normally quite a messy one, as we saw, but we’ve learned from it. It was a bittersweet day as the team collected a lot of points and it was great to see after so many years of problems to be back in a good position".
After only three months, Formula 1 is back in Jeddah for Round 2 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship - the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Changes have been made to the track to improve sightline for drivers and the exit of 27 has been widened by 1.5 meters, making the track potentially even quicker - are you excited to take the VF-22 for a lap around the fastest street track in Formula 1?
"It will be the first time for us to get out on a street circuit, so it will be interesting to see how things develop, how close we can get to the walls and what potential damage there is if you do touch the wall. For example, last year if you did grind the wall a little you would get away with it with a bit of tire just scraped off but in this case the rims are a much more vulnerable target so it will be for sure easier to run into trouble. It will be interesting to see what happens and how drivers will be able to cope with it".
After testing and one race on a custom-built circuit, how do you expect the new cars to handle across a very fast and flowing Jeddah Corniche Circuit?
"The bouncing of the car might potentially be a bit worse just because of the characteristics of the track maybe being bumpy and obviously quite quick. It will be interesting to see what kind of feeling we’ll get in the car but I’m sure it will be fine and we will manage".
It was a challenging race for the team last season. With so much drama happening up and down the grid, do you think there will be a more cautious approach considering how crucial running is currently to understand these new cars?
"The races turn out as they do so I guess it will be hard to predict what is going to happen. I don’t see people being more cautious just because of the nature of it and if anything, actually because of the new cars people will try to go harder on it, especially at the beginning of the year to get more out of it".
Less than four months after its first visit, Formula 1 is back in Saudi Arabia. Pirelli has once more chosen the compounds in the middle of the range: C2 as the P Zero White hard, C3 as the P Zero Yellow medium, and C4 as the P Zero Red soft. This time though, it’s with the new family of Formula 1 cars and tyres, as the teams get their first taste of the C4 compound in competition this year - with the hardest three compounds nominated for the opening round in Bahrain a week ago. This choice has been made as a result of Jeddah’s track characteristics (both in terms of layout and asphalt), the expected temperatures, as well as the data collected from the debut race in 2021. The new surface from last year offers a good level of grip (scoring three out of five in Pirelli’s classification) and reasonably contained levels of asphalt abrasion (scoring two out of five in Pirelli’s classification), which should lead to moderate wear and degradation.
The severity of the loads and speeds is average, with overall tyre stress scoring three out of five. Due to the rapidly flowing layout, the track is not particularly demanding in terms of traction and braking (scoring two out of five in Pirelli’s classification). A high degree of track evolution over the weekend is expected, thanks also to the Formula 2 support race programme. The fastest street circuit on the Formula 1 calendar has changed a bit since making its debut on the calendar last year, as the result of modifications requested by the governing body following a few on-track incidents last time. These largely consist of opening up sight lines through corners by moving barriers further back, while the final turn (Turn 27) has been widened by the removal of a grandstand, which could make the lap slightly faster. Turn 13 (of 27) still features 12 degrees of banking, helping the rapid flow of the circuit that makes it the second-quickest lap of the year overall, after Monza. The 50-lap Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is the second consecutive night race on the calendar, which means that track temperatures can differ between the sessions - as was the case in Bahrain - with FP2 and qualifying more representative of race conditions. Pirelli' Motorsport Director, Mario Isola, says:
"Jeddah marks a completely different challenge compared to the opening grand prix in Bahrain due to the diverse track characteristics, both in terms of layout and asphalt. Driver will also use a softer range of compounds this weekend to cope with the specific demands of the track, which is nearly as quick as Monza. The teams head into Jeddah with no experience of these tyres and cars on the circuit, and conditions could be somewhat different from last time in Saudi Arabia, with the race now being held at a different time of year and a few track modifications in store. The nominated compounds are the same as 2021, but their make-up has also changed entirely from last year. As a result, the teams will have a lot of work to do to assimilate as much data as possible during free practice, especially in FP2 which will be the only relevant session, being held at the same time as qualifying and the race".
Charles Leclerc is the fastest driver on the circuit in the first free practice session, with Max Verstappen trailing him by nearly a tenth. The third time is for Valtteri Bottas, who unexpectedly finishes ahead of Carlos Sainz, putting three Ferrari power units in the top four positions, demonstrating the Maranello team's excellent effort. The problems at Mercedes, meanwhile, persist, with Lewis Hamilton in ninth place and George Russell in fifteenth. The session was halted for 8 minutes after Lando Norris collided with a collapsing signs panel, necessitating the intervention of the marshall to clear the debris from the track. From the start of FP1, there is a rivalry between Alexander Albon and Mick Schumacher, which culminates in a Thai driver obstructing the German driver in turns 8 and 9. The two drivers are summoned by the stewards precisely because of this occurrence, who decide to give Albon his first reprimand of the 2022 season. Max Verstappen starts on the radio during the first free practice session:
"Guys, I smell burning, is my car on fire?"
Following the appropriate examinations, the team informs the Dutch driver that the automobile is in great working order. The powerful burning scent experienced by the Red Bull driver is the result of a fire that broke out 20 kilometers from the circuit at the Aramco factory. The causes of the fire in the oil plant, a missile launched by Yemen's Shiite rebels, the Houthis, were announced in the afternoon. Due to a similar attack just 20 kilometers from the Jeddah circuit, FP2 has been postponed by 15 minutes, and an emergency meeting between the drivers and Stefano Domenicali, President & CEO Formula 1, has been scheduled, followed by a meeting between Domenicali and the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA). Haas team manager Gunther Steiner said, after the meeting:
"We have been assured that it is absolutely safe to race here. After FP2 we will have another meeting. Personally, I feel safe, otherwise I wouldn't be here".
Domenicali's words also soon arrive:
"We are all here, racing here is safe".
The Saudi Motorsport Company responded with a statement saying it is appalled and willing to deploy any resource to assure and guarantee the safety of all Formula 1 guests, drivers, teams, and investors:
"We are aware of the attack on the Aramco distribution station in Jeddah earlier this afternoon. The race organizers remain in direct contact with the Saudi security authorities, as well as F1 and the FIA to ensure all necessary security and safety measures continue to be implemented to guarantee the safety of all visitors to the Formula 1 stc Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as well as all drivers, teams and stakeholders. The race weekend schedule will continue as planned. The safety and security of all our guests continues to be our main priority and we look forward to welcoming fans for a weekend of premium racing and entertainment".
These are undoubtedly anxious and fearful hours, but the FIA and Formula 1 leaders' decision is clear:
"The weekend program will continue as planned. The safety of our drivers will continue to be our top priority and we look forward to welcoming all fans to this weekend of great motorsport and fun".
So, we begin FP2 15 minutes late in relation to the schedule, with Leclerc proving to be the fastest driver on the track once again. The second-best time, set by Max Verstappen's car, remains unaltered, while Carlos Sainz Jr. improves on prior results by setting the third-best time. Both Ferraris scrape up against the track's side walls, causing damage to the cars and rendering them unable to complete the racing simulation. Charles Leclerc makes the following statement in this regard:
"It was an unfortunate end to an otherwise good day. In FP2 it was a small mistake, but not one that makes me lose confidence. I expected the front to slide around more and I clipped the inside wall at turn 4. Focusing on tomorrow, I think the pace is there. It's a bit of a shame we couldn't get the high fuel laps done, but we should be in the mix for tomorrow".
Similar to his teammate Carlos Sainz’s words:
"As expected these cars are behaving differently here in Jeddah compared to Bahrain and we keep learning more about how to set up the car for different conditions and corners. Porpoising was a bit of an issue at a certain point but I'm not concerned. As last year, understanding which is the best tire for the race is important for the strategy. Unfortunately, we didn't do the long run at the end of FP2 after I brushed the wall and we had to stay in the garage. We'll see what tomorrow brings".
For his part, the World Champion Max Verstappen sets the fastest time on medium tires after encountering difficulties on soft tires in both attempts: the first due to oversteer, the second due to a virtual safety car imposed on the circuit due to a power unit malfunction on Magnussen's vehicle. These are the statements made by the Dutch driver at the end of the session:
"The sessions ran quite smoothly today, we completed our program and tried out lots of different tire sets. It seems like Ferrari were quite competitive again, we still have a little bit of work to do to catch up with them and there's plenty of room for improvement. The track feels pretty much the same as last year, the barriers have moved slightly and in terms of visibility, it hasn't made a noticeable impact. Looking ahead to qualifying, we still need to look at some data, we'll see how it all goes tomorrow".
Sergio Perez, argues:
"We ran both cars on different programs and I think we got the data we needed, so now we have some work to do tonight. It was difficult to get the lap in I needed to see exactly how we will perform over one lap here because I had a lot of traffic out there. I think it could be another straight shootout with Ferrari on Saturday but at the moment we are focusing on ourselves and hopefully tomorrow we are able to make the steps we'd like with the car. It will be important in qualifying to make sure we get the space for a clean lap because traffic can be a bit difficult around here so we need to make sure we are on it".
Despite not being able to match the two Ferraris' speeds, the Mercedes manage to produce the fifth and ninth fastest times of the session, which were made by Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, respectively. This improvement in German single-seaters has a mechanical explanation: this year's Mercedes appear to be more drivable with a full tank of gas, when front hopping is less of an issue. Yuki Tsunoda, who was unable to finish a lengthy run owing to an engine problem, and Sergio Perez, whose time was invalidated by the stewards due to the display of the double yellow flags, had a bad day in FP2. The mechanics at AlphaTauri set to work right away to make Yuki Tsunoda ready for Saturday's third free practice session.
The second item, which is related to the internal combustion engine, the turbocharger, the MGU-H, MGU-K, and the exhaust system, is then installed. Even on Magnussen's single-seater, a second unit for electronic control is installed, allowing both pilots to join the circuit for FP3 without penalty. Charles Leclerc is the best driver on the track once again, and he is using a pair of soft tires that he has already used in the last free practice session. Following them are Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, and Carlos Sainz Jr. The difficulties at AlphaTauri don't appear to be going away; Pierre Gasly's car has a damaged axle shaft, and Yuki Tsunoda is forced to utilize his second engine of the season. Despite challenges and unforeseen events, the Faenza squad posted strong times, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively. To the media area's microphones According to Pierre Gasly:
"It's been a good two practice sessions today. We sustained some damage in FP2 on the floor, so we haven't shown our true pace yet, but we believe that we're in the mix of the top ten and I expect a very intense battle tomorrow amongst all the midfield teams. We know we've got some work to do but we'll focus on improving the car for tomorrow and I think it could be quite an exciting race based on what we've seen today".
Yuki Tsunoda, a teammate, argues with a somewhat fewer positive spirits:
"Until the last few moments in FP2, the car had felt okay today. There are still lots of things to work on at the moment, but we've been able to gather a lot of crucial data across both cars, which is still hugely important so that we can learn more about them and find a clearer direction to go with this car. Hopefully we can understand the issue we've had tonight and get it fixed for tomorrow's FP3, so we can then put it altogether when it comes to Quali".
Statements are followed by those of Jonathan Eddolls, AlphaTauri’ Chief Race Engineer, who offers a technical perspective on the issues that arose during the free practice day:
"Up until the end of the FP2 we were having a good Friday practice. We spent the day carrying out test items, following the post event analysis from the Bahrain weekend. We started both cars with a slightly different aero configuration and went in different directions to obtain the balance they required. Bouncing was not an issue, even though we felt there could have been some signs of it here. In any case, we had a stable platform to complete a number of test items, including trying to optimize the performance of the 18" tires - this being the first time we have used the C4 tire at a race weekend. With the operating conditions under the 2022 regulations, the tires were given quite a hard time, so we need to review how to give them some breathing space on Sunday. Then unfortunately at the end of the session we had an issue with the driveline on Yuki’s car, so had to stop on track. We will review the vitals when it's back in the garage and understand what is needed to turn it around for tomorrow".
Mercedes engines occupy the last seven slots; therefore, they don't even make the top ten. Lewis Hamilton addresses the microphones in this regard:
"It's been an OK day; we still have many of the same problems we had in the last race but we're working through them. It's definitely a little bit harder here with the high- speed corners but the grip is really good on the track and we just need to find some speed on the straights. We'll be heads down tonight, understanding the data from today and putting ourselves in the best position for qualifying tomorrow".
Same attitude for his teammate, George Russell:
"It's great to be back on the Jeddah circuit, extremely high-speed and exhilarating for the drivers, but we are still experiencing the same issues we faced last weekend in Bahrain. We know we still have a lot of work to do to close the gap on Red Bull and Ferrari. We'll be fighting to maximize our opportunities for points this weekend and giving it our all tomorrow in qualifying. Anything can happen around here so it's important we 're in touching distance to capture as many points as possible".
Mercedes’ trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, declares:
"We tried a few more experiments to understand the bouncing issue here, some which made it worse, some which helped, but we don't yet have a solution to make the problem go away. We can reduce this slightly for tomorrow as it's affecting the drivers in a few of the corners and costing time. Compared to Bahrain, the car balance is in a better place and in terms of degradation we're quite happy with what we have seen today. single lap still needs a bit of work but we've got the session tomorrow to do that. Overall though, a reasonable day but clearly we still have a bit of work to do before we'll be troubling Red Bull or Ferrari".
Mick Schumacher returns to the track aboard the Haas recording twicked good considering the fast recovery in little under a week after the devastating crash last weekend:
"Good things were learned. Obviously, it was unfortunate that not both cars were able to run, so hopefully that will get better in the future. I think that overall, we know what we have as a package and it's up to us now to put it all together".
Instead, Kevin Magnussen expresses his regret for not trying hard enough:
"It wasn’t ideal to get the limited running but on the laps I did have, the car didn’t feel too bad. I’m just hoping for a consistent FP3 tomorrow - get some more laps in, then qualifying and then we can use some of Mick’s experience on the long runs to get ready for the race. It’s a great track, super high-speed and there’s a lot of action so I’m looking forward to more running tomorrow".
Guenther Steiner, Haas F1’ team principal, says:
"Not the perfect day today but I think we can recoup tomorrow if we have a good day, it’s just that it could’ve gone better. Kevin had too many technical issues with the car but we’re working on it and will sort them out. Mick did a good, solid job".
Fernando Alonso, at the end of the session, says:
"We have mainly focused on the race preparation so far this weekend and it has gone relatively smoothly for us on track. There is also more performance in the car than we showed today, so that's encouraging for tomorrow. It's a challenging circuit to qualify on with such high speeds and high adrenaline. The new cars felt good on this track and not too dissimilar to last year. I think the overall lap times looked quite competitive too. From just today's running it looks as though this generation of Formula 1 car is perhaps better suited to this track than what we found in Bahrain".
And the teammate at Alpine, Esteban Ocon, confirms:
"We completed our planned Friday program and did not encounter any issues. The more we spend time on track the more we understand the balance, the different compounds and we were able to see how the car behaves in the evening, as the track is much quicker in those conditions. It was a good day of learning in that respect and the key will be to get the car in that sweet spot for the night race. Overall, I ' m happy and aiming to continue the momentum".
Alan Permane, Alpine’ Sporting Director, states:
"Today, we ran through a normal Friday program. Jeddah is a very challenging circuit. Not only is it tough for the drivers, who have to be absolutely focused for the entire lap as there's no room for any lapse in concentration at the wheel, but it's also a good challenge for the engineers in setting the car up, managing things like traffic and communicating quickly to the drivers. A lot of our focus today has been on the tires and assessing how they are operating. There was some front tire degradation, so that's something for us to take a look at in preparation for Sunday's race. The car has run well today, and it feels a little more together than this time last weekend. It's tight out there again on the leaderboard, and we aim to extract everything tomorrow to be at the right end of a very close pack".
Positive free practice session also for Nico Hülkenberg:
"I think it was a productive day back in the car. It is a new circuit for me to learn, which always provides its own challenges, but it was an exciting experience out there. It is a very high-speed circuit and an intense lap, more so than it can appear on TV. The team completed its program, we made good use of the laps, and I feel I learned as much as I could out on track".
Finally, the words of Lance Stroll:
"We completed plenty of laps today, tried some new things, and continue to learn how to optimize this car. FP1 is not very representative here [being run in the daytime], but it is all useful data for the coming races. Every lap is helpful at this time of year. We continued to work on the balance of the car in FP2 and did all the usual evaluation of the tire compounds. We will crunch the info tonight to see where we can find more performance ahead of qualy".
In the Williams team, Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, speaking of the early evidence states:
"The car has been working reasonably well today and both drivers are fairly happy with the balance. We have a few decisions to make over downforce level and we have a bit of work to do to understand how best to minimise the porpoising, but otherwise we’ll be looking at routine setup choices. Today was Alex’s first running at the Jeddah circuit but he was quickly up to speed and dialling his car in. There is more to come from the car and drivers tonight, and we’ll be looking to maximise performance across the rest of the weekend".
Alex Albon is happy with the performance of his car:
"I think we’ve got a fairly decent handling car. We’ve got a bit of work to do on the short runs, but on the long runs the pace looks promising and looks positive for the weekend. There’s a bit of tidying up to do. It was my first day at this track so on my side I’ve got a bit of lap time on the table, so hopefully that will put us in a good place tomorrow".
While Nicholas Latifi prefers to focus on getting to know his new car:
"On the first day here in Jeddah we learned quite a bit about the car, which is good for the long-term objectives for the season. I think we’re still struggling for pace, but nonetheless it’s been a very enjoyable day of driving as it’s a fun track, a very high-speed street circuit and it’s nice to be getting that feeling of adrenaline going again. We have some work tomorrow to find some more speed and we’ll see what we can do tonight".
Lando Norris can hardly call himself happy, using the term reasonable to define his free practice:
"A reasonable day. A few things feeling a little bit better because of the type of track - much quicker and a lot smoother, so there are definitely some differences. I think that’s allowing us to extract a little bit more potential out of the car. We’re feeling a little bit more confident, but it’s all very close and we’re still lacking in many areas, so we’ll continue to work on some of the progress we’ve made, and see if we can get even more performance out of the car tomorrow".
Is perhaps reasonably happier Daniel Ricciardo, who expresses confidence in the work done by his team:
"Today was a fairly productive day. I think we hit the ground running and we haven’t needed to adjust the car too much, we’re just learning a bit more about it. For our relative competitiveness, I think it was a productive day. It’s a good circuit to drive on, you get a good feeling around here, which is enjoyable. We've got some small changes to work on overnight, but all in all it’s been a good day and I think we’re in a little better shape than Bahrain".
Andrea Stella, Executive Director, Racing of McLaren, says:
"We’ve had two productive sessions here in Jeddah and were able to work through the programme that we planned. There were no real issues with the car, and in this sense it’s a more normal weekend than the one we had in Bahrain. The car seems to be performing better here, which is encouraging. Now, we have to do our due diligence overnight, in order to extract the maximum from the package, qualify well and be in contention for some points on Sunday – which we are very much looking forward to".
Looking ahead to the race, Pirelli recommends three compounds for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: C2, C3, and C4, which are the same as the tires used in 2021. Pirelli assigns a low severity rating to the street circuit for traction and braking based on the degree of abrasion on the bottom and the stress on the tires of medium intensity. The front tires should be inflated to 23.5 psi, while the rear tires should be inflated to 21 psi. Despite the changes implemented by Pirelli on the new 18-inch compounds, the pressure figures are nearly identical to last year's, with only 0.5 psi extra on the rear tires. According to Mario Isola:
"It's hard to get an exact read on tire performance as there was plenty of track evolution today, in FP1 and also in FP2, with sand blowing onto the track and the cars sliding around, especially at the start of each session. We saw some graining throughout the day, particularly on the softer compound, due to the track layout here with big lateral loads and sand reducing the grip. That obviously increased degradation and wear; even though certain drivers were still able to control it well. track evolution we saw today should continue, especially if the wind calms down. We've seen the majority of long runs on the medium tire, which the teams probably consider to be a strong race tire along with the hard, which showed plenty of consistency. The soft is probably less suited to this circuit as the graining will lead to increased degradation, but it's only Friday and we're yet to see the full picture this weekend".
Saturday 26th of March is the second official qualifying of this season 2022. The green light will turn on at 6:00 p.m. in the Jeddah circuit to start the official qualifying for Saudi Arabia Grand Prix. Weather conditions are good, with the air temperature at 23 degrees and the track temperature at 26 degrees. It is 6:00 p.m., the Q1 starts, and the 20 drivers have 18 minutes to do their best lap and qualify for Q2. Some drivers start the warming lap while Magnussen is the first to get the ball rolling, followed by Schumacher. The Haas team has decided to use the soft tyre for both two Haas cars. Magnussen finishes his first lap in 1'30"425 and gets the first position, followed by his teammate with just one-tenth slower (+0.100).
The next couple to get on track are the two McLaren, with Soft tyres. Lando Norris finishes the first sector in 33.051, the second at.1'02"54 and the third at 1'30"568, while Ricciardo is at +0.270 from his teammate. George Russell opts for the medium yellow tyre. In the first sector, he runs in 33.130, 29.013 in the second, and 28.588 in the third, finishing his lap in 1'30"731. Lewis Hamilton finishes his first lap in 1'32"708 with +1.315 in the first sector, +0.244 in the second and +0.418 in the third. On his side of the Mercedes garage, he has now just two sets of white, Hard tyres, no red, Soft tyres and only three sets of new yellow, Medium tyres left. It is the turn of the Ferraris. Charles Leclerc completes the first sector -0.335, and the second in 28.6. Carlos Sainz Jr. reaches -0.198 in the first sector, in less than two tents than Charles Leclerc.
He faces the chicane at around 250 km/h and closes the second sector at 28.8. He is almost finishing the third sector with +0.395, crossing the line and signing an incredible lap, when the Red Flag starts waving within the circuit. Indeed, in the turn 13, Nicholas Latifi crashed into the wall, so Carlos Sainz’s lap does not count, and the Q1 countdown stops at 11.22. Currently, For the Alpha Romeo Team, Zhou with the soft tyre is at +0.445; Lance Stroll with the soft tyre at +0.633; Alex Albon at +1.049 with the Soft tyre and Nicholas Latifi at 1.392. The other drivers have no time, as they did not have the chance to start their first lap. Max Verstappen had started his warm lap and he had to slow down to make Mick Schumacher start his lap.
The session resumes at 20.14, after 7 minutes of stop, with the car leaving from the boxes to get on the track and the first to start is Nico Hulkenberg for Aston Martin. Lewis Hamilton tries again to improve his best lap. He finishes his lap at 13th place in 1'30"535. With the used tyres, Carlos Sainz Jr. gets on track to start a new lap. In the first sector, he records -0.699, in the second -0.444 and in the third -0.184, finishing his lap in 1'28"855, and taking first place. His teammate opts for the used tyres too. He is faster than Carlos Sainz Jr. in the first sector (-0.555) and in the second (-0.333), while in the third, he scores -0.291 and closes his lap in 1'29"039, earning the second place. Max Verstappen chooses the used tyres too. He scores -0.369 in the first sector, -0.748 in the second sector, and -0.801 in the third, placing himself between the two Ferraris with 1'29"330.
Yuki Tsunoda has some issues related to the fuel and is forced to return to the box without completing his lap. Lando Norris completes his lap with 1'30"004 and places himself in fifth place. Just a tent separates the drivers from the eighth to the sixteenth position. However, Valtteri Bottas, records +0.546 in the first sector, +0.855 in the second, and +1.080, finishes his lap with 1'29"935, and outs Norris from the fifth position. His teammate Zhou records 1'30"133. Esteban Ocon is at his back with 1'30"331. Daniel Ricciardo places himself in between them with 1'30"263 at the eleventh place. Pierre Gasly improves his time in the first and second sectors, and scores +1.036 in the third one, with 1'29"891 and takes fifth place.
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton is completing his track and finishes in 16th place with 1'30"525. Speaking to his team, the British driver says: It seems I can’t improve man. His car seems unstable in turns 1 and 2 and the rear car seems to slip a bit. Lewis Hamilton tries again and this time improves a little bit. He scores -0.122 in the first sector, -0.049 in the second and -0.078 in the third, with 1'30"343, by taking the fifteenth place and temporarily gaining the Q2. Nevertheless, it is Lance Stroll’s turn. He drives faster than the Mercedes driver does (-0.078) and finishes his track in 1'30"256, steals the fifteenth place, and eliminates Lewis Hamilton. The Q1’s count down stops and the drivers eliminated are Hamilton (16th) with 1.488 and a +0.087 gap from Lance Stroll (15th); Alex Albon (17th) with 1.637; Nico Hulkenberg (18th) with 1.688; Nicholas Latifi (19th) with 2.962, and Yuki Tsunoda (20th) with no time.
As in the Bahrein Q1, four cars with Mercedes engines are again eliminated. Carlos Sainz Jr. has the first position, followed by Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and George Russell. Valtteri Bottas maintained fifth place, and Sergio Perez is at his back with Kevin Magnussen and Pierre Gasly. In contrast with Bahrein’s Q1, Lando Norris (9th) and Daniel Ricciardo (12th) succeed to qualify for the Q1. Zhou Guanyu is 10th, followed by Fernando Alonso (11th). While Esteban Ocon is 13th and Mick Schumacher 14th. Dave Robson, William Racing’s Head of Vehicle Performance states:
"We made some progress overnight with the setup and used the running in FP3 to determine the best run plan for Qualifying. Unfortunately, Nicholas touched the wall at the end of FP3 causing some minor damage to the front wing, which meant that he missed the grid start at the end of the session. Alex had a smoother session and confirmed that he was reasonably happy with the car. As we typically see on street circuits, qualifying can be very busy with a range of approaches to tyres and a constant risk of flag interruptions. With the lap being so long here in Jeddah, the run plans get squeezed and there is little slack. We had a programme to get both drivers a good shot at the tyre preparation, but this went awry when Nicholas crashed at T13 causing a red flag. We will need to inspect the damage tonight and understand what needs replacing before the race tomorrow. We moved Alex to a backup strategy and again gave him an opportunity to prepare the tyres, which was getting more difficult in the cooler conditions. He pushed hard and had a clean lap, but we were lacking the pace and the tyre grip to progress. We will now look to tomorrow and see if we can make some places as this is likely to be a race of attrition".
Alex Albon defines today’s qualifying as a tricky day. Indeed, He was sure that he could have gotten to Q2 if it was not for the tyres’ issues.
"Getting the tyres to work, especially at night-time when the temperature drops, becomes a little more difficult. We don’t have a bad car, but the tyres are very sensitive and we just missed the operating window. We have a bit of work to do but otherwise, in the race, we should have good pace, so we can be positive on that side. Overtaking is going to be tricky but hopefully, we have a pace advantage".
Nicholas Latifi seems confused about the causes of his crash.
"It just seemed like I lost the rear under braking into Turn 13, so we need to look at the data to understand exactly why as it was the first time I became rear limited in that corner all weekend. It caught me by surprise quite a bit. I feel really sorry for the team because it was a costly mistake. It’s difficult to say at the moment about tomorrow; the car is feeling a bit better than it did in Bahrain, but we still have a lot of work to do. It will be a long race so we just have to be there".
Yuki Tsunoda regrets his performance and the impossibility to set a time due to car issues.
"I didn’t feel anything in the car, but the team told me there was a problem and I had to come in. It’s such a shame I wasn’t able to run, as I was feeling quite confident in the car this weekend and our aim was to get through to Q3. It won’t be as easy to overtake here as it was in Bahrain, with most corners being high-speed, but I’ll try my best to make my way forward".
Nico Hülkenberg highlights the challenge of driving in this circuit pose and comments on the mistakes he made that costs him the exclusion from Q2.
"I think qualifying could have gone a little bit better - I made mistakes in Turns One and 13, which probably cost me three-tenths and it did not help my push to make Q2. This circuit is so intense and fast, with a lot happening to the car in each corner, and that has been the hardest thing for me to get used to after a spell away from racing. Purely in a physical sense, this could be one of the hardest races of my career, but my goal tomorrow is to keep it clean, make progress, complete the race and provide as much info as possible for the team as we keep developing the car".
At 6:31 p.m., the green light starts the Q2. Most teams opt for the used tyres, while the two Reb Bulls decide to use the new Soft tyres. The two Haas cars are the first to begin their laps. Mick Schumacher finishes his lap in 1'29"920 and places himself in first place, followed by Kevin Magnussen. The Danish driver loses some seconds in the first sector because he passes on the curb (33.198), but he managed to retrieve and records 1'30"206. Ricciardo scores 1'30"073. However, after the end of qualifying, the McLaren driver will be put under investigation for an incident that occurred in turn 7. It seems that Daniel Ricciardo has stopped Esteban Ocon in his session, who scores 1'39"377.
Charles Leclerc finishes his lap in 1'28"883 and sets the pace for the other drivers. Lando Norris is at Charles Leclerc’s back with 1'29"825 until George Russell, with Medium tyre, scores 1'29"618 and steals second place. In the meantime, Mick Schumacher starts a new lap and closes it at 1.037. Carlos Sainz’s first performance in Q2 is not comparable to that in Q1 because this time, he scores 1'59"662 with +30.779 from Charles Leclerc. Therefore, he tries again to gain his best lap: it takes -6.149 for him to close the first sector, with just 2 ten from Charles Leclerc; in the second sector, he drives at a medium speed of 230 km/h in the chicane and records +0.186, and 0.156 in the third sector, with a final score of 1'29"039. Therefore, he takes third place, at Sergio Perez’s back. Indeed, The Red Bull driver has scored 1'28"924. Fernando Alonso is in fourth place with a +0.545 gap. It lasts nine minutes to the Q2’s end and Max Verstappen is currently eliminated.
He tries again and scores 1'28"945, gaining third place from Sergio Perez, who slips to fourth place. Valtteri Bottas is sixth with 1'29"523, while his teammate is 11th and scores his personal best (1'30"035). In the meantime, in AlphaTauri’s garage, the floor of his car is repaired with scotch because he has broken it on the track. Mick Schumacher gets on track again to score a better time. However, he crashed into the wall between turns 11 and 12 at a speed of around 250 km/h, before completing the first sector. The Q2 is red-flagged and the Q2’s count down stops at 4:58. The Haas car is destroyed and no communication about the driver’s conditions arrived from the Haas box. It seems that Schumacher did not position he entered the turn late and his car passed on the curb. Therefore, he was forced to use the steering and he lost the car’s control. Meanwhile, Hamilton releases an interview after his elimination.
"I hope Mick is OK, that corner is 170mph and it's terrifying to see what's happened - that's the biggest crash we've seen at this track".
The Mercedes driver highlights the issues he had with the car’s balance:
"The rear end was snapping out and this isn't where we want to be. We went the wrong way with the set up tonight and the car just wasn't underneath me for this session. It's strange because the car was feeling good in FP3 but in qualifying, it was difficult to drive all of a sudden and felt nervous. Everyone is working as hard as they can and trying to stay positive. I'll try my best tomorrow and see what we can do".
Finally, the news that Mick Schumacher is conscious and fine arrived from a Haas team tweet at 6:49 p.m. The technicians have started yet to remove the car’s remains and clean the track but no information about the Q2’s restart. Indeed, removing the car’s debris is taking some time and even the race’s director gets on track to check on that track part status. The news that the Q2 session will resume at 6:40 p.m. arrives. Meanwhile, Mick Schumacher is going to be transferred to the Hospital. Haas’ team principal Gunther Steiner explains there was no communication from the box regarding Mick Schumacher’s condition after the incident because the car’s electronics went destroyed by the collision.
"Mick has no injuries, he goes to the hospital for tests but he speaks and is fine. We were lucky. I communicated with his mother constantly. The radio broke down and we had to wait to figure it out. Then the Medical Car updated us and the whole team. He did not want to go to the hospital by helicopter.... If he will be in Australia? We will see".
Finally, the session restarts. Kevin Magnussen records 1'29"546 and takes seventh place. Lando Norris improves his previous lap of two tens in the first sector, records +0.402 in the second, +0.768 in the third, and finishes his lap with 1'29"651. George Russell does not improve his performance in the first sector. In the second, he gains +0.763 and he records his best lap with 1'29"618, Medium tyres, and takes last place. Lance Stroll does not improve his time in the first sector and scores +0.502 and 1.020 in the last two sectors. He takes fourteenth place with 1'31"009. In contrast, Alonso improves his performance and gains fifth place with 1'29"295.
Charles Leclerc finishes his lap with a +0.094 gap from the leader Carlos Sainz Jr. (1'28"686), Sergio Perez is third with +0.238 from Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen fourth (+0.259). Valtteri Bottas is sixth with 1'29"404, Pierre Gasly seventh with 1'29"418, Kevin Magnussen slipped in the eighth place, Esteban Ocon is 9th (1'29"584) and George Russell maintains his 10th place with 1'29"618 and managed to get through to Q2. The Q2 ends. The drivers eliminated are Lando Norris (11th), Daniel Ricciardo (12th), Zhou Guanyu (13th), Mick Schumacher (14th), and Lance Stroll (15th). Lance Stroll first spends some words on Schumacher:
"The most important thing after qualifying is that it appears that Mick is generally OK after his big accident. It was not easy to sit in the car waiting for things to resume, so it was good to have an update on his condition before we went out again".
He recognises that P15 was the maximum achievement the team could have aspired on Sunday:
"The balance of the car is decent, but we just lack that extra bit of grip to jump up the order. Last year it was a really eventful race here, so you would expect similar opportunities tomorrow. We will be ready to react quickly and can hopefully make progress".
Mike Krack, Aston Martin’s team principal is overall satisfied with Lance Stroll and the team’s work to reach the Q2, even if Nico Hulkenberg had some troubles and Lance Stroll gained P15.
"He ended up 15th, which is not what we are aiming for of course but which represents progress compared with our performance in Bahrain just one week ago. Nico was not quite able to progress through to Q2, owing to small mistakes at Turn One and 13, but, considering his lack of testing mileage, he did a solid job to bag the 18th-best quali time. He may be able to move up the field to some extent tomorrow".
The McLaren team’s performance improved compared with Bahrein qualifying. Andreas Seidl, McLaren’s team Principal is satisfied with his team’s performance:
"P11 and P12 in qualifying represents a good step forward for us, compared to our qualifying result one week ago in Bahrain. Our package is a little better suited to the track layout here in Jeddah - but we’ve also had a much smoother weekend. Our aim tomorrow is simple: put up a good fight and score our first points of the season. It’s going to be a long and challenging race - a lot can happen at this circuit, and hopefully that will present opportunities for us. Thanks to the team, here in Jeddah and back at the factory, to our drivers, and our colleagues at Mercedes HPP for a lot of hard work over the past week. Let’s go racing".
And Lando Norris says:
"Today was much better. There are more positives to take since Bahrain and, realistically, we should have been into Q3. There were few areas where we could have been quicker, which cost us getting into Q3. There was a lot of traffic and people doing warm-up laps, which made it difficult to put a clean lap together, but I also made a mistake".
He feels optimistic with tomorrow’s race:
"I think we can aim for some points tomorrow. Finally, it was good to see that Mick was okay, we’re wishing him well and a speedy recovery".
Daniel Ricciardo says the team can be more positive thanks to today’s results:
"A week ago we weren’t in this competitive position, fighting for Q3. Both cars were about a tenth off. I think it’s been a smoother weekend for us, so hopefully tomorrow we can execute a good strategy and try to get into the top ten".
Zhou Guanyu claims he made a good performance today because since it was his first time on a street circuit:
"My expectations coming here were quite conservative: this is a relatively new track for me, it’s so quick and it was the first time I drove an F1 car on a street circuit, so to go to Q2 and have a realistic shot at Q3 is a very positive feeling. I improved from session to session throughout the weekend and that’s the important thing: the red flag in Q2 compromised our plans and, in the end, I was left with one set of tyres, but I am happy with 13th. This is a challenging track, you need to push to the limit and you’re on a very thin edge between a great lap and a mistake: to have a clean qualifying session here as a rookie is really good, and to be closer to my team-mate and the top guys is even better. As for tomorrow, let’s see: the race could be chaotic, if last year’s is anything to go by. I’ll need to keep out of trouble and see how much progress I can make, but I think points are realistic".
The green light starts the last act of this official qualifying at 9:48 p.m. This time, Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen decide to use new tyres while Carlos Sainz Jr. and George Russell the used ones. Actually, George Russell is forced to adopt this decision as he has already used all the available new tyres. Max Verstappen starts his warming lap before trying to get his best time. Charles Leclerc is in pole position temporarily by completing in 32.332 the first sector, in 28.400 the second and closing his lap in 1'28"446. However, His teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. records his best lap and completes the first sector in 43 thousandths less than Charles Leclerc. In the second sector, he is 82 thousandths slower than Charles Leclerc but he manages to get first place with 1'28"402.
Esteban Ocon is third with a +0.666 gap from Carlos Sainz Jr. Pierre Gasly is fourth (0.852). Kevin Magnussen is at +1.186 from the leader. Sergio Perez places himself third with 1'28"554 and his teammate is ready to start his lap. Max Verstappen records +0.434 in the first sector, but he loses one tent in the second sector (+0.443) and scores 0.037 in the third. He is sixth and says to his team: Zero grips with these tyres. It is likely that the warming lap was due to his issues with the RB18’s tyres. It seems he has lost traction in the turn 2 exit and grazes the circuit barriers. George Russell opts for the last set of new tyres and starts his lap. In the second sector, he records 0.278 with less 12 km/h than the Reb Bull, and +0.702 in the third sector. He finishes his lap and gains a fifth place at Esteban Ocon’s back. Valtteri Bottas is sixth with 1'29"199 and he comes back into the box.
Two minutes last to Q3’s end. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. leave the box and start their two warming laps. Max Verstappen decides to use the new tyres and does just one warming lap. In the first sector, Charles Leclerc records-0.155 (32.234), and he opens the rear wing on the straight of the circuit and gains first place temporarily (1'28"225). Starting his lap, Sainz takes advantage of Leclerc’s trail a bit and completes the first sector with +0.118, the second with +0-155 and the last with +0.426. He is now second with 1'28"402. However, Sergio Perez gets on the track and he is faster than the two Ferraris. He finishes his lap in 1'28"200 and gets the pole position from the Leclerc. Verstappen his 4th with 1'28"461 and a few tens divide the first four drivers. Ocon gains fifth place (1'29"068). Russel is sixth (1'29"068). Alonso is seventh (1'29"147) with a +0.947 gap from Perez. Bottas slips in eighth (1'29"199). With 1'29"254, Gasly is 9th and Magnussen is 10th (1'29"588). Sergio Perez is the first Mexican pole man in history.
"Today was very special to me, I achieved the best lap of my life. I feel like I could do another thousand laps and there is no chance I can get the same lap, with the amount of perfection and risk".
Perez recognises the difficulties in driving in Jeddah circuit:
"You have to be very precise, you must take all the risks and the risk to reward is extremely high but the positions you have to take around this place to get the perfect lap are so hard. We came to Jeddah from a very difficult weekend in Bahrain and the Team have been pushing so hard out here and back in Milton Keynes, so I am extremely happy for them all. If anything, we were focusing more on the race pace so we felt Ferrari had the upper hand on us in qualifying. We will see if we have the pace to beat them in the race tomorrow. I need a good start and then I will try to control the race from there it is going to be difficult because the Ferraris are quick and Max will be in the mix too. We have a long race ahead of us but I am confident we can come out on top again".
Max Verstappen congratulates to his teammate for his amazing performance. Regarding his side, today did not gor as he hoped due to the issues with the tyres’ grip:
"In Q1 and Q2 everything felt normal but in Q3 the grip was terrible, I couldn’t extract what I needed to from the tyres and I was just sliding everywhere. In the faster corners I couldn’t push as hard as I would have liked and when you don’t feel comfortable on a street circuit you cannot attack the corners. Of course I’m not happy with fourth and we’ll analyse what happened but we have a competitive car and we have a lot to fight for tomorrow as a Team. I am looking forward to it, hopefully we can have a good race".
Christian Horner is pleased for Checo as he gained his first pole position after 11 years in Formula 1 and 215 starts.
"The Ferraris put down such a competitive marker and for Checo to put in a lap like that at this circuit was unbelievable".
Regarding Verstappen’s issues with the grip, he states:
"Max struggled with grip in Q3 and could not attack the corners as much as he wanted, but starting from fourth he’s still very much in contention".
He recognises the challenge that Ferrari poses this season so he is incredibly satisfied with today’s results :
"Ferrari are impressive and their car is so competitive, they started early on this project last year, so for us to have Checo on pole and Max up there on the second row in race two, after such an enormous effort last season, is a real testament to the hard work of the entire team".
Mattia Binotto is happy for Ferrari’ second pole of the season. Indeed, a few thousandths separate Checo from the Ferrari drivers.
"I think that the first position could be done, but it doesn't matter. We are very happy to be second and third and even more happy to be competitive".
Ferrari’s car is fast and has been behaving well:
"We are happy, the F1-75 is a versatile car that can adapt well. The drivers are able to exploit it and it's a good starting point. Here they have chosen a lighter configuration. We are faster in the corners, they are faster in the straights: I'm curious to see what will come out in the race. We will probably suffer less from tire degradation, but the speed on the straights will certainly be an element that will be to their advantage. But here we know that anything can happen. Red flags, Safety Car... It will be important not to make mistakes and try to take advantage of every opportunity. We have two cars in front in the first and second row, they will have them too but there are others in the race too. We will have to be ready reactive and focused".
Charles Leclerc claims that the strange thing this weekend:
"Was that we felt better on used tires than on new tires. This led us to not have that feeling with the fresh Soft to make the next step. But talking about my lap in Q3, honestly I'm happy".
On Perez Leclerc says:
"He did an incredible lap. I think he took some risks that paid off in the third sector. Maybe I played it a little safer. I took enough risks in the first two sectors and tried to complete a lap that felt good. In the end we were two hundredths short, so it shows that we never have to give up anything. Today wasn't enough, but the race is tomorrow and I hope to bring a good result home. It will be a very tight fight with Red Bull. It will play out on tire degradation, which is greater than we expected. Not only for us but for everyone. However, we have clear ideas on what to do to make them last, so we have to focus on ourselves. The first two corners will be important: no unnecessary risks, but if we can gain a position it would obviously be better. We'll see".
Carlos Sainz expresses his concerns about his performance with the new tyres because he did his fastest lap with used tyres.
"That's why in Q3, at the first attempt, I had used tires and I did a really good time. Then I put on the new tire and I went 2-3 tenths slower. It's quite a strange thing, which doesn't happen on any other circuit, but it's clear that in the decisive moment of the qualifying you need the best performing compound and I wasn't confident about that".
Of course, Carlos would have preferred to be on the pole since he did a good performance and made progress during qualifying, especially after the issues with set-up and suspension he had during the free practices.
"During free practice, I wasn't up there because I was testing some things I wanted to bring to the car. Especially set-up and suspension, to try to find a better feeling. In qualifying, I put everything together and I was going very strong. I think I made progress, but in the end, the best way to measure it is the race. Let's see how we are tomorrow, if I'm closer on the pace we can fight for the win".
Pierre Gasly did a good performance and made it through to Q3 again, even if his car had been damaged on the floor during Q1 that could have affected his performance.
"It was a really tight Quali today, with only a few tenths separating P5-P10, so I’m pleased with where we are. We’ll fight for everything we can tomorrow but it’s going to be a long race and considering the tyre degradation we’ve already seen in the practice session I think there will be a lot of different strategies tomorrow; we’ll be working hard tonight to decide what will work best for us".
Jody Egginton, the AlphaTauri Technical Director, recognises the difficulties with both cars, even if they were quick in every session.
"This has meant the progress has been very disjointed on both sides of the garage and the workload has been higher than ideal. Frustratingly for everyone, Yuki had a suspected water system issue during Q1, meaning he was unable to capitalise on the good form he has shown so far here. Pierre suffered a disrupted FP3 but recovered well and navigated Q1 without any fuss. In Q2, when the session resumed, he put in a very clean lap, allowing him to progress to Q3 without too much trouble. The Q3 strategy was based around two runs, but unfortunately, the second run was not perfect, and we have ended up P9 in what was a very tight Qualifying battle for fifth to 10th".
Egginton says the key point that team has not still addressed is how to maximise the grid position with one car, even if AT03 has shown some reasonable pace:
"The focus now shifts to the race and the strategy group are flat out preparing for tomorrow’s race, seeing how we can try to get both drivers moving forward".
Kevin Magnussen is relieved to know that his teammate Mick is safe and uninjured after the crash he had:
"The safety is so good with these cars with the fact that you can walk away from a crash like that, it’s impressive. I think he was having a great qualifying session up until that point and he was up for a good result, so he’ll just need to come back and get on the horse and bounce back".
Kevin highlights that the car today could have achieved a better place than P10 but he was not driving at 100 per cent of his abilities and he did not get the most out of his car:
"Honestly my neck just completely broke in Q3 - suddenly it snapped, and I couldn’t hold it. I wasn’t driving well, I think maybe there was a P5 in the car, there’s only half a second up to P5 and my best lap in Q3 was on used tires - and not a great lap as I said. The team had a P5 in it, but I didn’t".
For Guenther Steiner, the Haas team principal, is unlikely that Mick will participate in tomorrow’s race:
"He’s in the hospital right now and being evaluated by the doctors, so he is in good hands at the moment. There is a possibility that he’ll have to stay for observation overnight at the hospital. Based on these facts and where we are, we have decided not to field his car tomorrow".
Regarding Kevin’s performance, he says:
"Kevin having not done a lot of practice yesterday, I think he did a fantastic job today getting into Q3. His last run was not as planned but I think that was down to not having enough time on track. We’re still happy with Q3 and P10 tomorrow".
Mario Isola, the Pirelli Motorsport Director comments on the Teams’ strategy to manage the qualifying and he observes:
"Pole was just seven-tenths off last year’s best time here in Jeddah, which is a great achievement in only the second race for these brand new cars. The teams focused on the soft compound from free practice this morning in preparation for using it in qualifying this evening. This also means that the majority of drivers have kept two sets of medium and one set of hard, which probably indicates that they will prefer to use these two compounds".
However, the relatively short time in both free practice and qualifying makes it hard to say exactly how the levels of graining have evolved.
"As a result, the strategy is open tomorrow between a one-stopper and a two-stopper, depending on the actual levels of degradation experienced during the race, which of course depends on a number of different factors. Our best wishes to Mick Schumacher for a speedy recovery after the accident he sustained during qualifying: it’s good to see that the new generation of cars are fast as well as safe".
Esteban Ocon says that the car felt good today and he is happy to see that they have been quick in the Jeddah circuit as it is a very fast, technical and risky circuit.
"I almost put it in the wall in Q3 but managed to just save it. It’s only the second race with this new car and to qualify in fifth and seventh is great and we should be very happy about today. We’ve built up well all weekend and I am happy how the car has improved during all the practice sessions. We’re in the mix to fight for a solid result tomorrow".
Fernando Alonso finds that having both cars in Q3 is a good sign for his team:
"The car has definitely felt competitive all weekend. With these 2022 cars, we keep learning every single time we leave the garage and I think there is still more potential for us to develop”. However, they still have to learn more about tyre degradation. “Now we don’t have to use the tyres we qualified on in Q2, so it gives us more flexibility on strategy. Let’s see what we can do in the race and hopefully, we can take a lot of points from it".
Otmar Szafnauer, the Team Principal is delighted with the two drivers’ performances in today’s qualifying that make both cars in the top ten for tomorrow’s race:
"We knew from the beginning of the weekend we had the pace to be very competitive, so to see the hard work from everyone at the team pay off is excellent. Only half of the job is complete, though, and points are only given out on Sundays. We’ve put ourselves in a great position to have a strong race and we’re looking forward to developing our strategy overnight to ensure both cars are very well placed and prepared to score points".
The Mercedes team recognises that today’s performance did not fit their expectations. On Lewis’ performance, Toto Wolff says:
"We experimented with a setup that was worse, and the consequence was there was no rear grip and the car became undrivable".
In contrast, he thinks the team, in particular George, made a good effort for managing to take the sixth position considering that they only had one soft tyre for Q3.
"Nevertheless, the optimum scenario for us today was the no-man's-land between the Red Bull and Alpine, and that's certainly not acceptable".
Andrew Shovlin says:
"We know we aren't quick enough at the moment and Lewis exiting in Q1 is just a symptom of that".
The Mercedes engineer says they struggled more on a single lap pace this time than in Bahrein.
"However, the car did look better in race-spec yesterday than on single runs, so we're hopeful we'll have a better package tomorrow. We know the races here don't normally run to plan so there's lots of opportunity to move forward and we'll no doubt gain some useful knowledge along the way".
On Russell, he comments:
"George drove strong sessions and didn't leave much in the car today. The porpoising is priority number one because it's preventing us from running the car where we want it. We've got some avenues which are giving us good direction but it's taking us time to get those as parts on the car. We're leaving no stone unturned and every day we run, we're learning".
George Russell says that it was not a good qualifying day for the Mercedes team because they do not have a handle on the car.
"And we're fighting to get it into this very small window".
However, he says that on our side of the garage, the team managed to get it just inside that window, although he does not why or how they succeeded to do that and on Lewis’ side, they did not manage to.
"When that happens on a circuit like this on a knife-edge, you just don't have the confidence to push it to the limit. As a team, we're not here to fight for P5 or P6, we want more and we were nine tenths behind Checo today, so we've got work to do".
Russell adds that the team knows what the car’s issues is and they are working to overcome them and he has no doubt that they will succeed and get in a good spot.
"We know there's so much lap time on the table, we just can't tap into it. We will get there, I've no doubt. But we've got to be patient. We can be grateful that we've got such a serious issue, but we are still the third fastest team and that offers so much optimism. If we are still the third fastest and we have so many issues, when we solve them, we should be in a really good spot".
Finally, the Alfa Romeo team principal, Frédéric Vasseur, is pleased with today’s good performance that confirms Alfa Romeo’s result in Bahrein was not a matter of luck:
"Both Valtteri and Zhou did well and we can see progress already compared to last week, which means we can expect to be in the fight to bring home points with both cars tomorrow. It’s going to be a long race and we’ve seen tonight that this track doesn’t forgive any mistake: there are a lot of challenges, but also a lot of potential opportunities to take and it will be up to us to bring home a good result".
Valtteri Bottas is happy to have gotten through Q3:
"We were very consistent, made good progress in each session and got a good spot on the grid for the race".
Bottas says that they were not sure that today they could have had a solid qualifying because they did not know whether the track layout would have suited them. However, they managed to get positive results.
"I was perhaps hoping to be a couple of places higher, but everyone was so close: we stuck to our plan, which was to only use one set of tyres for Q3, and by the end there was nothing left. Still, we delivered some good laps and I feel we are definitely in the fight that will be outside the top two teams. We can take the challenge to everyone around us tomorrow and I am looking forward to what will be an interesting race. We need a good start - we have been working a lot on them here and they feel better already - we need to keep position on lap one and then take any opportunity that may come from there on".
Tomorrow no Mercedes engine will start in the first fifth places on the grid. In addition, the decision regarding the incident that involved Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo in the Q1 arrived: Ricciardo is punished with three places penalty for impeding Esteban Ocon, so the McLaren’s driver will start from the seventh line, from the fourteenth place, rather than twelfth. Finally, on a tweet at 1:45 p.m., the Haas F1 team confirms that Schumacher will not participate in tomorrow’s race. Mick Schumacher’s VF-22 became uncontrollable as it passed over the curb because this new generation of cars has a different and lower floor. Therefore, when a car passes on the curb, which is high, the car’s rear part raises, the driver loses the ground effect, and the car becomes difficult to control. However, even if Mick Schumacher passed over the curb at a speed of 240 km/h and crashed into a wall, he remained unharmed. The reason is that the several devices for the driver’s safety on single-seaters prevented the worst from happening. It is a sign of the many improvements in safety the current Formula 1 cars, particularly the Haas cars, have done.
On Sunday, March 27, 2022, is held the second Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which obviously cannot be an easy affair, because of the tight confines and high speeds of this new city circuit. Big absent is Mick Schumacher, not able to take part in the Grand Prix after the qualifying’s crash. Another absent is Yuki Tsunoda, who missed out on qualifying: in a first moment he was set to start nineteenth, but then stopped on his way to the grid with a suspected drivetrain issue and prematurely ended his participation. So, are eighteen the cars lined up on the grid: Sergio Perez is on pole position for the first time ahead of Charles Leclerc, while Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen share the second row, and Esteban Ocon leads George Russell off the third row.
Lights out at 8.00 p.m. local time, and the second round of the battle between Red Bull and Ferrari starts. Perez takes the command with Charles Leclerc behind him, while Max Verstappen is ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr. out of the second turn and Esteban Ocon keeps George Russell behind. Further back, Kevin Magnussen takes the ninth position off Pierre Gasly, who then loses another place to Lando Norris. Zhou Guanyu goes seventeenth, ahead of only Nicholas Latifi, with Lewis Hamilton up to fourteenth. Esteban Ocon has a risky moment on the main straight, almost forcing team mate Fernando Alonso into the barriers at the start of lap 5: this sets off an intra-team battle for the sixth position between the Alpines. At the start of lap 8, Esteban Ocon passes Fernando Alonso off-track and gives the place back allowing Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen to join the train from ninth and sixth position.
Meanwhile Carlos Sainz Jr. begins to lose touch with the top three, Sergio Perez gains more detachment from Charles Leclerc, while Max Verstappen remains third. On lap 16 Sergio Perez goes to the box to change from Mediums to Hards, and emerges fifth behind George Russell. Fortune is not on Sergio Perez’s side as Nicholas Latifi, in eighteenth position, crashes while exiting the final corner and brings out a Virtual Safety Car. When it emerges, Charles Leclerc is leading Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz Jr. and George Russell in the train. Lewis Hamilton makes a steady climb, taking the twelfth position off Stroll on lap 10 and then the eleventh off Lando Norris, with Pierre Gasly next. The seven-time champion does not pit during the Safety Car, and goes seventh behind Kevin Magnussen for the restart on lap 21.
On lap 21, Sergio Perez concedes the third position to Carlos Sainz Jr. to avoid the penalty for having illegally passed him while he was exiting the pits, during the caution period. Lewis Hamilton tries to take the sixth position off Kevin Magnussen at the final corner at the start of lap 24 but the Haas driver retakes the place with DRS. The Britishman does not make the same mistake next time around, retaining DRS to pass Kevin Magnussen into the first turn. On lap 30 Max Verstappen begins to turn up the pace and Charles Leclerc responds with his own turn of speed to keep the top four as they were since the restart. Kevin Magnussen still has not pitted on Lap 35, and loses the seventh position to Fernando Alonso as a result, but soon after the Alpine driver slows, saying in a radio message that the car has no power.
After that, Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren crawls to a halt right at the pit entrance and Valtteri Bottas is hauled into the pits with a problem for Alfa Romeo. Because of the Virtual Saferty Car, Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly go into the top 10 while Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg are forced to pit. Lewis Hamilton too is called in but the call comes too late; Alonso prompts the pit lane to be closed as he too crawls to a halt at the entrance. On lap 41, Lewis Hamilton comes in for a new set of mediums to emerge twelfth. Max Verstappen takes the lead on the back straight, but Leclerc hits back, going deep into the first corner with DRS and holding on to the lead of the race, continuing the battle from Bahrain. On lap 43, Max Verstappen attempts another move for the lead but this time locks up in unison with the Ferrari going into the final hairpin. Behind, Perez closes in on Carlos Sainz Jr.
The battle for the lead continues, with tyres and drivers at their limit. On the start of lap 47, Max Verstappen closes in once again and this time makes sure he has a good run into the first turn. Charles Leclerc cannot close him off this time, so Max Verstappen takes the lead. Charles Leclerc puts in fastest lap and is soon right on the Red Bull’s tail and, even though a collision between Lance Stroll and Alex Albon triggers a double yellow flag, continues to track him down. They push hard and in a blink of an eye comes the chequered flag. Max Verstappen wins the Saudi Arabia Gran Prix, with a margin of 0.549 seconds. Carlos Sainz Jr. takes the final podium place over Sergio Perez by just 2.7 seconds, while George Russell rounds out the top five. Esteban Ocon, meanwhile, fends off McLaren’s Lando Norris for the sixth position. Lando Norris started eleventh but found solid race pace to finish ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, Kevin Magnussen and Lewis Hamilton.
Zhou Guanyu misses out points in eleventh position, bouncing back after anti-stall compromised his start. The Chinese driver was found to have passed Alex Albon off track early on and served his five-second penalty under the Safety Car, an infringement for which he was forced to serve a penalty. Nico Hulkenberg finishes ahead of Aston Martin team mate Lance Stroll (in thirteenth position), whose car was hit by the Williams of Alex Albon moments from the end. Along with Alex Albon, there were five other DNFs: Valtteri Bottas retired on lap 36, Fernando Alonso a lap earlier along with Daniel Ricciardo, while neither Mick Schumacher nor Yuki Tsunoda were able to start the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with their respective issues for Haas and Alpha Tauri.
Winner Max Verstappen loved the battle with Leclerc, but was somewhat disappointed to have seen his team-mate fall out of the lead:
"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 started on pole and controlled the opening phase of the race, but when he came into the pits, Leclerc flew straight past and took him the lead. Perez was then forced to hand third place back to Sainz, and in the end brought his car home to a disappointing fourth:
"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".
Team Principal Christian Horner congratulates Max Verstappen for his strategic race: he did not take too much out of the tyres and made sure he had enough left to attack at the end. He is not happy because of Perez’ bad luck:
“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".
Ferrari earned the podium again, with Leclerc and Sainz in second and third position. Charles Leclerc was trying to take the lead off Perez at the beginning, then he managed to do it because of a fortuitously timed Safety Car. From there, he regarded in management, however a late Virtual Safety Car helped Verstappen to move up to the second position. From there, the Ferrari driver defended arduous, dropping and retaking the lead twice, even if then Verstappen succeeded in his undertaking:
"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 Jr. is satisfied of his result:
"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".
Team Principal Mattia Binotto is happy for the “great show” of the evening with two strong drivers fighting for the win. He says for Ferrari the season started in the right way, 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".
For Mercedes this weekend has been difficult if we talk about results. Russel has been able to maximise the potential points, giving the team something to work on in view of the upcoming races of the Championship. It is important to underline that for the first time, Russell managed to end the race ahed of team mate Lewis Hamilton:
"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".
Lewis Hamilton, who started in sixteenth position, ended tenth; he declares that the car is good, but not fast enough and at the same time he struggled with tyre temperatures at the beginning, even if then he started to gain on the cars on the Medium tyre:
"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".
Toto Wolff declares that there is clearly a lot of work to do in order to get into the fight at the front. For him:
"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".
For Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director, this has been a tough weekend, so the team needs to go back and regroup ahead of Melbourne. In Jeddah they met more difficulties than in Bahrain, so they have no illusions and know that the main thing is 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 Team departs the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with eight points, thanks to Esteban Ocon who finished in sixth position after an exciting Grand Prix in Jeddah. Esteban managed to gain a number of positions and with a number of car retirements around him, he moved into sixth position:
"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".
Team mate Fernando Alonso was unfortunately forced to retire after an issue brought an end to his strong race:
“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".
Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer, has welcomed the battle between his two drivers, happy with how they exploited the car’s potential:
"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 this puts him in a complicated situation, at the bottom of the grid, but his efforts to get closer to the top 10 remain vain: in fact his McLaren suffers a drop in power which forces him to park the MCL36 just before entering the pit-lane:
"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".
Norris is satisfied of his seventh position and points. He is not very happy about team mate Ricciardo’s race:
"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".
The target was to stay in the race says Andreas Seidl, giving thanks to everyone in the track for the seventh position achieved by Lando Norris:
"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 had some problems, with Tsunoda struck down once more as he had been in qualifying. He had a driveline issue on the way to the grid and didn’t even make the beginning line:
"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".
Gasly is glad he went away with points. He defines himself unlucky in relation to the pit done around 30 seconds before the Safety Car went out, which was not ideal. Despite this, he is happy to have finished in eighth position:
"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".
Technical Director Jody Egginton talks about the frustration related to what happened to Tsunoda, saying that the team has a lot of analysis to conduct to ensure that this issue is addressed for the next race. About Gasly, he declares:
"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".
After congratulating with Red Bull Racing and the organizers of the Gran Prix, Franz Tost comments about the race of his drivers:
"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".
Because of Schumacher’s crash in qualifying, Haas participated to the race with only one car. Magnussen scored his second straight points finish since his call-back for 2022 in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. His race strategy looked to take a hit when a Safety Car was called on lap 16, allowing the majority of the drivers to pit. Despite this, he profited from a Virtual Safety Car later in the race, allowing him to change tyres before racing to ninth position, and the second consecutive points finish of his Formula 1 return:
"The worst thing that could happen to us did happen as we started on the opposite strategy, on the hard tire. 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 tires 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".
Mick Schumacher reassures everyone about his health condition after the crash happened in Q3, affirming that this is possible thanks to the safety and security of the new cars:
"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".
Guenther Steiner is happy with what the team achieved and he hopes to keep scoring in the next races. He even talks about the strategy used in Jeddah:
"We started on a different strategy - on the hard tire - 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".
Team Principal also talks about the accident listing the damage to the car and estimated repairs to be worth close to a million dollars. He says:
"The chassis itself doesn’t seem to be broken. The side impact structure is, but you can change them. Obviously we need to do a proper check on the chassis but it looks not too bad, to be honest. The engine also, I was told from Ferrari, seems to be okay. The battery pack as well. And then all the rest is broken".
Then he goes on to provide an estimate of the costs that are likely to be involved, saying:
“I think the cost is still pretty high because all the suspension is gone, except the front-left, I think there’s still something on there. The rest is just like carbon powder. I don’t know money-wise but with these cars, between gearbox, the whole bodywork is gone, radiator ducts are gone, so it’s between half a million and a million I would say. There is a nominal amount but in a racing team you never could stick to a budget like in a normal commercial business. Because you have this risk, you have got obviously a contingency in there. But if you have two or three like your contingency is pretty quickly not a contingency anymore, it’s a loss. So you just need to manage. Obviously, I hope we don’t have a lot more of them".
In Jeddah, Bottas continued where he left off the weekend before: he was involved in an entertaining battle with the Alpine drivers and Magnussen, then closed down Alonso late on when he was called into the pits and forced to retire:
"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 thinks about this race as a good experience in terms of getting more confidence with street circuits in Formula 1, even if it 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 admits that this was a disappointing ending to a race in which the team 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".
Difficult race for Aston Martin. Hulkenberg opted to start on hard tyres, but because of the timing of the Safety Car he had problems with tyre warm up:
"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".
Also Stroll pitted before the Safety Car, but the race did not end well for him as he collided with Albon in the last few laps:
"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 talks about the team stategy adopted in Jeddah:
"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".
Nicholas Latifi lost control early on and hit the barriers with the front of his car at the final corner. That ended his involvement at an early stage, and left Albon as the only representative for much of the evening:
"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. I made some costly mistakes this weekend, so it’s an event to learn from for me. I’ll go away and reset for Australia".
Alex Albon tryed a move on Stroll and provoked a collision, picking up enough damage to be forced to park his car down in the run off area. He is handed a three-place grid drop for the next race, for causing a collision:
"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, talks about “A very frustrating end to three weeks away from home for the team”. He then described the strategy used by the drivers:
"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, Head of F1 and Car Racing, is enthusiast of this race:
"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 hearthbraking victory".
Now we have to wait for the next stop of the 2022 World Championship: the Australian Grand Prix, which returns for the first time since 2019 and is set to take place on April 08-10 at the Albert Park circuit. Max Verstappen and Red Bull are now on the scoresheet but Charles Leclerc still owns the lead of the championship.