With Charles Leclerc in fourth and Carlos Sainz in 15th for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the team were working towards a points finish for both cars on the streets of Jeddah.
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Photos: Scuderia Ferrari.
As the lights went out, Lewis Hamilton held onto the lead while Charles was able to fend off the charging Red Bull of Sergio Perez to remain in fourth position. Carlos had a good start from 15th, moving past Kimi Raikkonen to start his charge up the order.
Carlos was on the fringes of the top ten by lap eight, taking advantage of the battle between Antonio Giovinazzi and Fernando Alonso ahead of him. The Spaniard was looking to challenge the Alfa Romeo for the position before a crash for Mick Schumacher brought out the Safety Car on lap 10.
This allowed multiple drivers to pit, including Hamiton and his teammate Valtteri Bottas, while Verstappen stayed out to take the lead.
Charles was one of the cars to pit on lap 11, re-joining the race in sixth position on a set of hard compound tyres. Carlos, who had already started the race on hards, but was now under investigation of overtaking Giovinazzi for ninth under yellow flag conditions.
The race was then red-flagged in order to repair the barriers at turn 13 after Schumacher’s accident.
At 21:15 local time the race resumed with a standing start, Verstappen now on a fresh set of hard compound tyres, while Charles had dropped down slightly to sixth position. A chaotic start involving incidents for Perez, George Russell and Nikita Mazepin brought out another red flag. Contact between Charles prompted Perez’s incident, while a scary smash into the back of the Williams of Russell ended Mazepin’s day.
As the race restarted for a second time, Esteban Ocon would lead into the first corner, making use of the tussle between Hamilton and Verstappen on the initial restart to move forward. Verstappen took the lead on the run down to the first corner with Hamilton dropping to third. Charles dropped to tenth with Carlos just behind.
Lap 22 saw a virtual safety car deployed after contact between Yuki Tsunoda and Sebastian Vettel at turn two. The two Ferrari’s also went wheel-to-wheel, Carlos eventually taking eighth position from Charles. Tsunoda was given a five-second penalty and Vettel was now suffering with a damaged Aston Martin after another collision with Raikkonen..
After a second Virtual Safety Car to clean up debris from various parts of the circuit, the race resumed once again on lap 33.
Lap 37 brought things to a head once again between Verstappen and Hamilton as the Hamilton ran into the Red Bull on the run to turn 27. Verstappen was told to give the position back after an earlier challenge but the Mercedes hit him. Verstappen then was awarded a five-second penalty for going off the track.
Hamilton took the eventual win in Jeddah, with Verstappen in second, as Bottas just bet Ocon to the line for the final podium position. Charles got back ahead of Carlos and the pair finished in seventh and eighth, more good points going into the final round of the season next weekend in Abu Dhabi.
Written by Cóilín Higgins.
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