Hamilton wins Saudi Arabian GP to draw level with Verstappen

    Hamilton and Verstappen now head into the Abu Dhabi GP finale on equal points.

    Published On Dec 06, 2021 11:57:00 AM

    3,922 Views

    Lewis Hamilton won the chaotic Saudi Arabian GP, taking his championship battle with Max Verstappen right down to the wire. The two head into the Abu Dhabi GP finale later this week on equal points.

    The first-ever F1 race at Jeddah was a dramatic affair – with two red flag stoppages, even more virtual safety car periods, a collision between the title protagonists and even some controversial  decisions from the stewards.

    • Verstappen handed penalty for collision with Hamilton
    • Both drivers equal on 369.5 points

    Hamilton defeats Verstappen

    Leading away from pole position, Hamilton was pulling away at the front when Mick Schumacher crashed on lap 10, bringing out the safety car. Mercedes opted to pit both drivers at the time, while Red Bull decided to leave Verstappen out longer. Soon after, the race was red-flagged to fix the damaged barrier, handing Verstappen a free tyre change and the upper hand.

    Hamilton once again moved into the lead at the re-start, while Verstappen went wide off-track at the first chicane and cut back across Hamilton. As a result, the Mercedes driver dropped to third behind Verstappen and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.

    Before long, the race was red-flagged again – this time due to two different incidents involving Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc, and Nikita Mazepin and George Russell. In the pits, race director Michael Masi had to get involved in a deliberation with Red Bull and Mercedes, and finally the decision was made to restart the race with Ocon first, Hamilton second and Verstappen third.

    Verstappen, using his new medium tyres, aced the restart to once again take the lead. Hamilton (who was on the hard tyres) briefly dropped to third behind Ocon, but quickly overtook the Alpine driver. The two title rivals continued to scrap over the next couple of laps, with Hamilton pulling in within DRS range.

    Hamilton attempted a move on lap 36, but Verstappen was able to retain the lead after running wide at Turn 2. The Red Bull driver was instructed to give the position back to Hamilton, however, due to miscommunication between race control and Mercedes, this message wasn’t relayed to Hamilton.

    As Verstappen slowed down on lap 37, Hamilton was caught off guard and touched the Red Bull’s rear, sustaining damage to his front wing. As this incident was being investigated, stewards handed Verstappen a 5-sec penalty for his earlier Turn 1 incident.

    By Lap 44, Hamilton finally found a way past Verstappen and went on to win the drama-packed race as his Red Bull rival nursed his tyres home. “I’ve been racing a long time but that was definitely, that was incredibly tough, and I tried to be as sensible and as tough as I could be out there, but also sensible and with all my race experience over the years, just keeping the car on track and staying clean," Hamilton said after the race.

    Verstappen hit with penalty

    Verstappen finished second, but was hit with another penalty after the race – this time a 10-sec penalty for his Lap 37 collision with Hamilton. The gap between him and Bottas behind was big enough that Verstappen still holds on to second place, but he’s been handed two penalty points as well.

    Ocon missed out on the podium by just 0.102sec, as Bottas passed him right at the chequered flag. Daniel Ricciardo ended up fifth, followed by AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

    Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and McLaren’s Lando Norris completed the top 10.

    2021 F1 drivers’ championship standings

    Ahead of the upcoming season finale at Abu Dhabi, both Hamilton and Verstappen stand on equal footing with 369.5 points.

    This is only the second time in F1 history that two drivers are tied going into the final race. The last time this happened was in 1974, when Emerson Fittipaldi won the title over Clay Regazzoni.

    With tensions running at an all-time high, one thing is for certain – the fans are in for a spectacle.

    2021 Saudi Arabian GP results

    2021 Saudi Arabian GP results
    PosDriverTeam
    1Lewis HamiltonMercedes
    2Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing
    3Valtteri BottasMercedes
    4Esteban OconAlpine
    5Daniel RicciardoMcLaren
    6Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri
    7Charles LeclercFerrari
    8Carlos SainzFerrari
    9Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo
    10Lando NorrisMcLaren
    11Lance StrollAston Martin
    12Nicholas LatifiWilliams
    13Fernando AlonsoAlpine
    14Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri
    15Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo
    NCSebastian VettelAston Martin
    NCSergio PerezRed Bull Racing
    NCNikita MazepinHaas
    NCGeorge RussellWilliams
    NCMick SchumacherHaas

    Also see:

    Hamilton wins Qatar GP as Alonso returns to F1 podium

    Lewis Hamilton on F1 title fight, motivation and more – Interview 

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