Another one-two for Red Bull

Red Bull has stamped its authority on the season so far with another one-two finish here in Jeddah, with Max Verstappen winning from team-mate Sergio Perez, in a repeat of last week’s race result in Sakhir. And yet again, a Ferrari driver completed the podium, this time courtesy of Charles Leclerc. In fact, the rest of the top ten was also very similar to the first race with the other Ferrari, driven by Oliver Bearman on his debut (7th) along with two McLarens, two Mercedes and an Aston Martin: the only “gatecrasher” was Nico Hulkenberg, who produced an excellent drive to finish tenth for Haas.

Max Verstappen now has 56 wins to his name and he also secured his one hundredth podium finish from 187 Formula 1 Grand Prix starts, a success rate of 53.48%. It was Red Bull’s 115th win, its 30th one-two finish from 371 Grand Prix. The first two races have yielded the Austro-Anglo team 87 of the 88 points available. The only one that escaped them was the point for fastest race lap in Saudi which went to Charles Leclerc. 


On the starting grid, 18 of the 20 drivers opted to run the first stint on Medium tyres, the only exceptions being Oliver Bearman and Valtteri Bottas who preferred the Soft. The Safety Car came out on lap 7 after Lance Stroll hit the barriers, triggering a run of pit stops. Only four drivers – Norris, Hamilton, Hulkenberg and Zhou – decided to stay out on the Medium, delaying their stop as much as possible. As from lap 30, this quartet began to pit: Hulkenberg on lap 33, Hamilton on 36, Norris on 37, while Zhou went all the way to lap 41. The Haas driver was the only one to fit Hard tyres, with the other three going for Soft to try and make up some places, although they did not manage it. Of the drivers who saw the chequered flag, only Bottas made two stops (Soft-Hard-Soft).


 “It’s been a very straightforward race, both in terms of the final result, which was almost a carbon copy of Sakhir and when it comes to how the tyres performed. We knew this would be a race where the quickest strategy was a one-stop. Obviously, the Safety Car after seven laps brought forward the pit stop window. The C2 proved to be very consistent, both in terms of performance and degradation, as can be seen from the fact that the fastest lap of the race came right at the end courtesy of Leclerc on a set that had done 43 laps. The C3 was also up to the task, because the four drivers who chose to stay out when the Safety Car appeared, were able to take it all the way to its wear limit while still running pretty competitively.  Compared to Friday’s long runs, graining on this compound was minimal, which was down to the track gradually rubbering in more and more with use. Hamilton’s and Norris’ stints on the C4 also demonstrated that the softest compound we had here could be competitive even in the first part of the race, although only two drivers tried to exploit that.”


Enzo Fittipaldi (Van Amersfoort) won the Feature Race. The Brazilian came out on top in a race with several Safety Car periods. Alongside him on the podium in finishing order were India’s Kush Maini (Invicta) and the Norwegian Dennis Hauger (MP Motorsport). In terms of tyre use, predictably almost all the drivers, (17 of the 21) opted to start on the Supersoft to use it for the minimum number of laps, given the level of degradation at this track, before pitting for the Medium. Of those who went the opposite way, the best finisher was Amaury Cordeel (15 laps on the Medium and 13 on Supersoft) on his way to fifth place, keeping his hopes of a podium alive for quite a while.


The surprise of the day came after the chequered flag, with Doriane Pin, who had been first across the line, given a 20 second penalty because she inadvertently did an extra lap, thus taking the flag twice. This dropped her to ninth, which handed the win to Abbi Pulling (Alpine), who was followed home by Maya Weug (Ferrari) and Nerea Martì (Hilfiger). The English driver thus leaves Jeddah leading the championship on 44 points, 11 more than Weug and 12 ahead of Pin. The next round for the F1 Academy is in Miami from 2 to 5 May.


Formula 1 will be back on track in a fortnight’s time in Melbourne, where the Australian Grand Prix will run to the conventional Thursday to Sunday programme. For the Albert Park street circuit, Pirelli is bringing the C3-C4-C5 compounds, a trio one step softer than last year. The two junior series, of which Pirelli is the tyre supplier, Formula 2 and Formula 3, are also racing there.


Founded in 1872, Pirelli is a company with deep Italian roots now recognised all over the world for its cutting-edge technology, capacity for innovation, and the quality of its products. Motorsport has always played an important part in Pirelli’s strategy, following the ‘race to road’ philosophy. The company has been engaged in motorsport for 117 years and today supplies tyres to more than 350 championships on both two and four wheels. Pirelli pays constant attention to the most efficient use of natural resources and energy, aiming to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Pirelli has been Global Tyre Partner of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 2011. The company also supplies championships including FIA Formula 2, FIA Formula 3, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, FIA World Rally Championship and GT World Challenge, alongside numerous national series.