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Hamilton wins as F1 loses


For those of you familiar with the proverb, 'for the sake of a nail the Kingdom was lost', we cannot help wondering if the 2021 equivalent, in terms of the world championship, that might read, 'for the sake of a needless mistake at Turn 27 the title was lost...'

It is widely estimated that had he not made that error Max Verstappen would have grabbed pole by almost half a second over title rival Lewis Hamilton, but it was not to be.

It was an amazing lap, and even the seven-time world champion was impressed.

As a result, Max starts from third while Mercedes locks-out the front row for the sixth time this season.

Despite this, it is not all over for Verstappen, however his job is made that much more difficult, certainly in terms of wrapping up the title this weekend.

However, perhaps we are getting a little ahead of ourselves for, as we have seen in the support races, anything can, and probably will happen here today.

Sergio Perez says the Jeddah track is "too dangerous without a real reason", and we totally agree.

Indeed, as Anthony Davidson poo-pooed such suggestions yesterday we wondered if he was talking as a driver or a TV pundit eyeing viewing figures.

All focus appears to have been on speed while the reality is something akin to a Hot Wheels track with as much opportunity for overtaking and blind corner after blind corner.

Right at the start of the weekend we described this track as an accident waiting to happen, and without wishing to sound maudlin nothing we've seen thus far has changed our opinion, far from it.

Indeed, this is style over substance, a track almost crafted for the Drive to Survive viewer.

Indeed, as opposed to getting bogged down in the various permutations that could decide one of the titles today, we will be happy to get the race done safely and move on. Never, in all our days, did we anticipate looking forward to Abu Dhabi.

Due to these genuine fears over track safety - and we prepare this intro as the F2 feature race is delayed and subsequently abandoned following three incidents including a horrific start-line clash involving Theo Pourchaire and Enzo Fittipaldi - we are not going to ponder the battle for the title or even that between Ferrari and McLaren or Alpine and AlphaTauri. Indeed, not wishing to 'do a Murray Walker' and tempt fate we're going to see how things play out and hope our fears are unfounded.

Mind you, however things unfold today in terms of red flags, safety cars and VSCs, we do not envisage Michael Masi facing the same issue as his counterpart at Bathurst where the safety car was deployed as a result of an echidna wandering on to the track.

An hour before the race the teams gather on the grid for a tribute to Sir Frank Williams who passed away last weekend. It's a poignant moment as the sport bids farewell to another of the old guard.

In parc ferme, a number of changes have been carried out to various cars, and for that of a certain Dutchman... Front wing/nose assembly, RHS rear trackrod, RHS rear top wishbone, RHS rear lower wishbone, RHS rear upright assembly, LHS front upright gaitor, PAS rack, Rear brake friction material, Parameter changes associated with RHS rear corner replacement and Parameter changes associated with brake friction material replacement... but no new driveshaft, no new gearbox.

That said however, let's not forget Monaco where Ferrari opted not to change the gearbox on Leclerc's car following his Q3 crash... only to see him fail to make it to the grid next day.

Today should be a one-stopper. The fastest one-stopper should be from medium to hard, which the majority of drivers look set to select - as can be seen by nearly all the frontrunners, bar Norris, who chose to get through Q2 on the medium compound.

Starting on the medium gives more options as it leaves the door open to either a one or a two-stopper, and it also enables drivers to run a relatively long first stint, with a wide pit stop window. An alternative is a soft to hard strategy, which is just as quick on paper but might need a little bit more management, depending on the car.

A two-stopper is distinctly slower, but the fastest should be using all the compounds: one stint on the medium, followed by one on the hard and the last on soft.

However, it might not be as straightforward as that. With Jeddah being a brand new circuit, there are still a number of unknown factors to consider: and one of them might be the seemingly high probability of a safety car. If that's the case, then it could make a 'free' pit stop possible.

The pitlane opens and the drivers head out, one of the first being Verstappen. Indeed, the Dutchman gives it 'full welly' in a bid to stretch his gearbox before things get serious.

Ahead of the formation lap the air temperature is 29 degrees C, while the track temperature is 32 degrees. Risk of rain is 0%.

Other than Norris nobody is on the softs, while Raikkonen, Alonso, Russell, Latifi, Stroll, Schumacher and Mazepin join the majority of the leading ten in choosing the mediums, while Ricciardo, Sainz and Vettel go hard.

They head off on the formation lap, all getting away cleanly.

The grid forms, albeit very slowly.

They're away!

The Mercedes pair hold position, Bottas covering Verstappen as he makes a move on the run to Turn 1. Behind, Perez nearly collects his teammate as he locks-up into Turn 1. The Mexican loses ground and is passed by Leclerc

Tsunoda, who has had a poor start, backs off in a battle with Alonso.

At the end of lap 1, it's: Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez, Norris, Ocon, Gasly, Ricciardo and Giovinazzi. A nice move sees Sainz nail Raikkonen for 13th.

The stewards have noted an incident involving Stroll and Russell at Turn 7.

After two laps Hamilton leads by 1.5s with Verstappen 1.2s down on Bottas.

Sainz passes Tsunoda for 12th, his next target being Giovinazzi who has been passed by Alonso.

"I could do with a bit more gap in front," says Bottas, who is unhappy running in his teammate's dirty air. However, said teammate is setting a strong pace, posting a string of fastest laps.

Ricciardo passes Alonso and immediately sets about Gasly, as Alonso loses out to Giovinazzi in a great move by the Italian.

Ricciardo passes Gasly on the main straight as Sainz nails countryman Alonso for 11th.

Alonso reports a number of issues with his car, mainly concerning the hybrid features.

Lap 8 sees Hamilton post another fastest lap (33.214) as he builds a 2.565s lead.

The safety car is deployed when Schumacher goes into the barriers at Turn 21 after losing the rear of the car on entry. Asked if he is okay, the youngster sighs: "Yes, I'm OK, sorry about that."

Russell and Stroll are the first to take the opportunity to pit.

"We are going to box, box," Hamilton is told. The Briton duly obliges, as does Bottas. Indeed, as Verstappen stays out, Leclerc, Perez, Norris, Alonso and Latifi all pit.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Jeddah, here.


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1. Posted by kenji, 08/12/2021 9:18

"@ elsiebc... hahaha...'I almost turned it off'!!! but evidently you didn't!! Now that begs the question eh.? "

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2. Posted by kenji, 08/12/2021 9:15

"@ Spindoctor...Yes, you are right. My bad for aiming comments that were intended for 'Cobra Driver' instead. All that aside you are infusing your comments with politics and that does not advance your argument whatsoever. The facts are there and that's all that matter ATPIT. Most drivers managed to make the finish line despite all the on track hoo har and whilst there have been some comments re certain 'tweaks' that can be made the general opinion of drivers was positive. Yes, it was 'messy' at times but what a welcome change it was to some of the saccaharine events we've had to endure in the past. Given the total complexity of F1 racing we should be grateful for what was on offer. Challenging circuits like Jeddah bring a degree of uncertainty and I welcome that any day so enjoy Abu Dhabi and some exciting racing.I know that I will."

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3. Posted by TokyoAussie, 08/12/2021 3:11

"I think the headline says it perfectly.
A "dog's breakfast" is how I referred to it with a friend.

The Hamilton/Verstappen battle can still get worse. I still remember Schumacher, Senna/Prost, and their antics when a championship was on the line. Taking out a competitor deliberately is not new, I am afraid."

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4. Posted by elsiebc, 07/12/2021 17:56

"I will say, though, that in the earlier parts of the race it was indeed fascinating watching two drivers who are decidedly heads and shoulders above their peers in closely matched machinery, including two in the exact same machines, put in lap after lap on the ragged edge. As Spindoctor mentioned, it is definitely a driver's track, just not a racer's track."

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5. Posted by elsiebc, 07/12/2021 17:48

"I almost turned it off ~20 laps before the end and again ~10 laps before the checker. I was so disgusted with the "racing" from both camps, the obvious short comings of the track, and the politicking by both the teams and the FIA. I am not looking forward to this next weekend.


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6. Posted by Spindoctor, 07/12/2021 13:38

"@spindoctor - proof read BEFORE you click "post" - from a friend....."

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7. Posted by Spindoctor, 07/12/2021 12:28

"@kenji No shibboleths here - I don't recall mentioning Mr Tilke in my criticism of the track.
Notwithstanding whatever constraints were placed on the layout by the "Land Owners" whoever they may be, I doubt they'd block what Bin Salman wants! Formula One could have insisted on racing on a track which explored more aspects of the Sport than this one. Bin Salman is probably so anxious to "Sportwash" his regime that he would have built whatever they asked for. .

This isn't a great circuit for Formula 1 - even relatively minor incidents required VSC, Full Safety Car or Red Flag. I presume the attraction for Liberty\FIA is that this 'spices' things up for the great unwashed but it does little for the Sporting reputation of Formula One. This problem was exacerbated by all the nonsense surrounding the standing restarts.....
I realise some drivers expressed enthusiasm for it, but they probably enjoyed the challenges of driving it, not necessarily Racing on it. I'm not sure many said it was "fun".

Getting-down to brass tacks it's clear that the only reason the Track exists & that Formulka One rasces there i"

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8. Posted by kenji, 06/12/2021 13:26

"@ Spindoctor...swimming against the tide is difficult at the best of times but I do wish that people would examine their motives instead of acting as though they are in an echo chamber and exposing their special 'shibboleths' of which Tilke is seemingly a prime example. Some time ago, in an almost identical debate, people were piling into Tilke without really understanding how he and his team operate. It was explained that, to a very large extent, the land/property owner and the promoter tell Tilke what they want and they, Tilke and Co, pass that through to the FIA for approval and subsequent accreditation after the agreed designs are accepted or rejected. To claim that Tilke is totally responsible for what is seen as being an unacceptable design is, IMO, totally unfair and unjust. Some drivers, who came unstuck during the race complained and that was then magnified by fans and other bodies who didn't come out of the week end smelling like roses. The interesting fact is that various drivers voiced opinions saying just how challenging and enjoyable the race circuit was and that it was a fun and exciting race despite the exhausting length of time in the cockpit.Some expressed a desire to come back next year and wwre looking forward to doing it all again."

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9. Posted by Spindoctor, 06/12/2021 11:51

"Hard not to engage in ad-hominem attacks on various drivers - I'll digest comments elsewhere before joining in on that.
Thankfully most just got their heads down and raced as cleanly as is possible on such a compromised track.

The Track looked and is incredibly fast & dangerous: as Mr Editor points-out it need not have been so; another symptom of Liberty\FIA's ned to try and amuse the "groundlings" whose main interest seems to be (metaphorical) Blood & guts, not Motor Racing.

I'm seemingly alone (if Coulthard & gang are anything to go by) in finding much of what went on in the "battle" between Verstappen & Hamilton unacceptable in what purports to be the pinnacle of Motorsport. It wasn't particularly "exciting" because (as was adjudged by Stewards) some of the "brilliant moves" were illegal & some dangerous. Hopefully all concerned will think on't over the next few days...."

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10. Posted by Editor, 06/12/2021 11:19

"@ Cobra Driver

I was saying to a friend last night that Monaco is limited by the natural geography of the Principlaity.

But in Jeddah they effectively had a blank piece of paper... yet instead of a race circuit they aimed for endless superlatives and the brash, tawdry surroundings we have grown used to in recent years with many of these new circuit.

Still, I bet it looks great on Netflix."

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11. Posted by Cobra Driver, 06/12/2021 11:15

"Another "Tilke Tragedy". Monte Carlo has character. Saudi Arabia is a death trap. The almighty dollar (euro) strikes again.

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12. Posted by kenji, 06/12/2021 1:13

"Having been up all night, a 1.30 am start finished out here in the 'global wilderness at 06.15am!! As a starter, I have been following F1 since inception and GP racing since the '50's and I don't recall ever seeing a race so full of action and disruptions. As expected there are people complaining about the FIA and their race control but they have my sympathies...totally snowed under by an avalanche of competing interests and questionable tactics. There are also lots of people venting their frustrations in regards to the track!. The track config was hardly the reason for the criticism...if anything is to be blamed it is the drivers and teams pushing their racing beyond reasonable limits. It is their choice of tactical response coupled to their championship aspirations that led to the racing that we witnessed.There were some drivers who raced well without getting involved in crazy moves and speculative/opportunistic passes that were beyond their level of ability. We have become conditioned to a level of somewhat 'vanilla racing' and when the gloves come off, like they did in Saudi, the complainers burst forth from their cocoons to vent their displeasure. Racing should be tough and uncompromising and that is what we got, a much faster Monaco style race and the promise of a final that will take us all to the edge."

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13. Posted by KKK, 05/12/2021 23:09

"RIP F1...what a disgrace"

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14. Posted by Stitch431, 05/12/2021 23:03

"In case Lewis wins the next race he should give the trophy to Masi. Over the entire season, every decision has been made in favor of Lewis. This one race was just the final proof of this. Indeed F1 lost its credibility like this."

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15. Posted by kdxrider, 05/12/2021 22:29

"I agree Editor, but I thought Damon Hill really had to bit his tongue because he almost said the Red Bull wonderboy tried to do a Schumacher. And Damon should know being on the receiving end one time."

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