Race Weekend Central

Max Verstappen Wins Comfortably in Saudi Arabia

Max Verstappen won Saturday’s (March 9) Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, his ninth Formula 1 win in a row.

Verstappen led from the pole and controlled the race from start to finish. Fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez took his second runner-up result in as many races ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“I think overall, of course, a fantastic weekend for the whole team but also for myself,” Verstappen told Sky Sports’ David Coulthard after the race.

“The last stint was bit longer than we would have liked, but with the safety car you have to go for it. The last few laps also, with those backmarkers, with the cold tires, it was a little bit slippery but we had good pace all around … Overall, very pleased.”

Leclerc’s one-off Ferrari teammate, Oliver Bearman, took seventh place in his F1 debut, subbing in for an unwell Carlos Sainz. Bearman joins esteemed company as one of F1’s few rookies to take points on debut, and the first Brit to achieve the feat. Bearman’s effort earned him Driver of the Day honors.

Oscar Piastri finished fourth, followed by Fernando Alonso in fifth. George Russell was the better of the two Mercedes cars, collecting a sixth-place result. Behind rookie Bearman in seventh were Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg in eight, ninth and 10th, respectively.

Hulkenberg’s 10th-place finish earned him his first point since last year’s Australian Grand Prix, where he finished seventh. The single point awarded to 10th place may prove pivotal for the struggling Haas F1 Team, who are expected to be in a close fight with Williams Racing in the Constructors’ Championship by the end of the season.

After an early crash from Lance Stroll brought out a safety car on lap 7, tire strategy played next-to-no factor in the race, as much of the field pitted during the safety car period, except for Norris and Hamilton.

Aside from Stroll, Pierre Gasly also retired from the race after suffering a gearbox failure on the formation lap. Gasly’s BWT Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon finished 13th.

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Like last year’s visit to Jeddah, officiating was a hot topic throughout the race.

Norris first came under scrutiny – more from the commentary team than from the stewards – for allegedly jumping the start. To be precise, Norris released the clutch early, crept forward a few inches, and quickly came to a stop before the lights went out. Much to the shock of the commentary booth, Norris was placed under review but ultimately not penalized.

Next was Perez, who was released from his pit stop into the path of Fernando Alonso, who hit the brakes just in time to avoid a collision with the Red Bull. The commentary booth was in agreement with the stewards in this case.

Most controversial among the penalties issued were the two assessed to Kevin Magnussen over separate incidents. Magnussen first made contact with Alex Albon as the two raced side-by-side into turn 4. Magnussen left less than a car’s width for Albon, who was pinched into the wall. Neither car sustained major damage in the incident, for which Magnussen was handed a 10-second time penalty.

Later, Magnussen attempted to overtake Yuki Tsunoda in a similar manner into turn 4. The Dane overshot the corner, leaving the track after completely overtaking Tsunoda. He was penalized in this case for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. The penalty was criticized by Coulthard as “too harsh.”

2024 F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Results

The next round of the 2024 F1 season will be the Australian Grand Prix. The lights will go out at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday, March 24 at 12:00 a.m. with coverage on ESPN.

About the author

Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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