Rate the Race and Driver if the weekend
Jeddah street circuit, Saudi Arabia
Mean Reader score 7.15 Rated 8/21 races this season
This was the inaugural GP at this circuit, although F1 has signed an agreement so racing will continue here for several years. It was nothing if not controversial: not because of this country’s appaling Human Rights record and treatment of women, but because of the race itself.
The race scored 7.15 which is both the highest and lowest score this circuit has received. We had two red flags, two re-starts (three starts altogether), Three (?) yellow flags, two safety cars (?) and at least four Virtual Safety Car periods. Seeing as this track was the second quickest of the calendar, it took a long time to finish this race, giving the quote from Sir Frank Willams’ favorite film on Russell’s halo ‘I feel the need, the need for speed’ a whole new meaning.
It started out as what could only be described as ‘boring’ and was likened to the Inagua#ral race at Baku, the track which promised so much yet delivered so little. Boring, that is, until Mick Schumacher crashed into the barriers on Lap 10. Then the dogs of hell were released and chaos ensued. Ref restarts, flags of various colours, yellow, red, green, Safety cars, both real and virtual, crashes, borderline disqualification threats for dangerous driving, brake testing, etc, etc. This ‘race’ has quite a lot of drama. Anyway, the upshot of it all was that Hamilton won, Verstappen came second, Bottas snatched third on the line from Ocon, Perez retired, effectively ending Red Bull’s WCC championship hopes, and Hamilton goes into the last race of the season with an equal number of points as Verstappen, although Verstappen is technically still leading, as he has more GP wins than Hamilton……..
Driver of the Weekend: Lewis Hamilton, 69.9% Reader vote
Lewis led FP1 and FP2, and took pole position after arch rival Verstappen failed to finish (crashed out) on his final lap. Lewis led the race for the first ten or so laps and everything seemed to be going Mercedes’ way until Mick Schumacher crashed into the barrier. Lewis got a cheap pit stop but shortly afterward when the race was red flagged, Verstappen got a free pit stop and restarted the race in P1, religating Lewis to P2. With elbows out this time, the restart was not so clean and Lewis ended up off track and was overtaken by Ocon, and Max, who also went off track gained an even bigger lead over Lewis. Further back there was even more chaos and the race was red flagged again. This time it was Ocon in P1 as Verstappen, having gained a lasting advantage over Lewis by going off track, had to swap places with him on the restart. This restart saw Lewis on Hard tyres and Verstappen on a used set of mediums, which gave Max the edge and he again took the lead, but this was never going to work out as his tyres were unlikely to last to the end of the race. Well, on lap 37 things really got interesting between the two rivals, and Max again got ahead of Lewis by going off track but this time when giving the place back he ‘brake tested’ Lewis and was rear ended by Lewis and got a ten second penalty for his efforts. Needless to say, it was hammer and tongs for the rest of the race until Verstappen’s tryes gave up the ghost and Lewis won comfortably. Thankfully there were no more red flags for the race but still plenty of safety cars and Virtual safety cars to contend with. So not only did Lewis win the race, but he drew level on points with Max by taking an extra point for fastest lap. Another race, another record. Well done Lewis!! Will he make it WDC8 next week? We’ll just have to wait a little while longer to get an answer to that one. @F1TheaJ.