Will’s Race Rundown: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 

Sergio Perez driving through a street circuit at night
Will Stead

Race number two has come and gone. On paper it seems like this race was action packed, but with a grand total of 36 overtakes (of which eight were the charging Verstappen), I could not help but worry that this race rundown would be significantly shorter than the previous. Alas we power on, surely my overbearing charm and charisma can save this piece… right? 

For anyone who hasn’t read the last Race Rundown, I shall remind you of the rules: 

  1. The Rundown is written is the finishing order of the grid.
  2. There is zero bias and only objective truths are written (probably). 
  3. If you disagree or have any complaints direct them to the editor, I’m just a scared young lad hiding behind a screen as I spout my short-sighted opinions. 

Sergio Perez (Red Bull): Full disclaimer, as I started writing this article I instinctively put Max ahead of Checo out of habit. The now described “King of the Streets” is really starting to put up a fight. Credit is due to Perez, the high speed and punishing track of Jeddah rewards those who earn it and punishes those who can’t hack it. His pole position may have been down to Max’s car having a paddy in qualifying, but Perez didn’t lay a wheel wrong. Congratulations Checo, try not to cheat on your wife at the afterparty like in Monaco. 

Max Verstappen (Red Bull): As mentioned, Max’s RB19 forgot it was a race car during qualifying and instead opted to function as a highly expensive bench. Despite starting 15th, pundits were sure Max would walk away the winner. In fact, Fernando Alonso predicted before the race that Verstappen would be in second place by lap 25. Lo and behold on turn one of lap 25 Max took 2nd. Alonso’s magic can’t fail in any respects this season, it’s insane.

The Alonso hype train is no longer a British Locomotive, but now a rigorous Japanese Bullet train 

Fernando Russell (Aston Benz): No I haven’t made a mistake. I’m making fun of the FIA for being a shambles. It was excellent to see the AMR23 maintaining its pace at a completely different style of track to race one in Bahrain. The Alonso hype train is no longer a British Locomotive, but now a rigorous Japanese Bullet train.  

Alonso earned a third-place trophy that was passed around like a hot potato. For full context: Alonso didn’t line up properly at the start of the race and acquired a five second penalty. The genius then built up a five second gap between himself and Russell to essentially eradicate the penalty’s influence. A fortunate safety car further helped minimise the extra time serving it at the pit stop, but as he entered the box a mechanic attached the rear jack.  

It wasn’t until after Alonso had stood on the podium did the FIA decide to serve him a further ten second penalty. In typical Alonso fashion, called out the FIA for being useless and thankfully the penalty was reversed (only after the trophy had been handed to Russell) due to Aston Martin providing a whopping seven instances where teams hadn’t been punished for serving a penalty with the rear jack attached.  

George Alonso (Mercedes Martin): George functioned as Dr Manhattan after the race, existing in both third and fourth at the same time. His race was rather unfortunate, not realising that Alonso had already served his first penalty until much later in the race and having a little spat with Hamilton over fourth place. Russell was graceful during the entire position pandemonium and seems to have taken the FIA’s disasterclass as a bit of a joke. 

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): Will Lewis become the new Mr. Consistency? Maybe he should change his number from 44 to 55 as fifth seems the only place his car will grant him. I feel a lot of sympathy for Hamilton; having his eighth title taken away from him, and now being made to drive in a dumpster can’t feel good. On the plus side, it is now evident that the Mercedes’ aero is winning the Outwash Effect award. The Ferraris (despite being faster) simply could not follow the Mercs’ dirty air and overtake, seen also by Hamilton not being able to overtake Russell. 

Carlos Sainz (Ferrari): I stand by my position from the previous article: Sainz will never be number one so long as Leclerc sticks with the team. He’s got consistency (so long as there isn’t a gravel trap for him to drive in to) but, speaking as a man who has never done any racing in his life and frequently makes sensational opinions that age poorly faster than milk, I don’t think he has the raw pace to win a championship. That’s a stupid opinion, but what is F1 journalism if not dumb opinions treated as fact that serve to do nothing but rile up the masses. 

Charles Leclerc (Ferrari): Oh, Charlie boy, the pipes, the pipes, are calling. I’m not even a huge Leclerc fan but it upsets me watching him week after week. Ten position grid penalty – check. Ferrari pit wall not giving him important information that costs him a position – check. Having six points in the championship through no fault of his own – check. 

Esteban Ocon (Alpine): A vast improvement for the French team as Ocon actually managed to spend more time on track than in the pits. Alpine’s position as a constructor isn’t confirmed as of yet; there is a chance they may be able to pull 4th if they can out-develop the Mercs (whose only staple now is the most reliable car on grid) 

On the opening lap he didn’t just close the door on Piastri, he slammed it in his face and then spat through the letterbox

Pierre Gasly (Alpine): It’s difficult to tell that Gasly was driving a Renault as he came across more like a Peugeot driver THE MANIAC. On the opening lap he didn’t just close the door on Piastri, he slammed it in his face and then spat through the letterbox. That being said, maybe he is the new Mr. Consistency, achieving two back-to-back P9 finishes. With the tightness of competition between the two Alpine drivers it may not be until next year that we see who the number one Alpine driver is. 

Kevin Magnussen (Haas): A statistically better showing this week for the American team, but (just like last race) more than likely due to the drivers than the team itself. KMag made up four positions across the 50 laps, ending the race with a stunning duel between himself and Tsunoda that saw the Dane dart into the final points position.  

Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri): Aspiring chef, and occasional driver, Tsunoda gave another stellar drive. I believe his race can be summarised by a beautifully articulated radio message that made it through to the main broadcast: “AGGHHHH”. There is simply not enough credit given to Yuki. He was in the points all race until being overtaken by KMag around lap 47. While being overtaken so close to the end would normally derive criticism it was the speed that Magnussen took off with after the pass that displayed how incredibly Tsunoda had been defending with such an inferior car. 

Nico Hülkenberg (Haas): It wasn’t quite Bahrain standards in either qualifying or race but it’s coming together. Nico’s section is getting hijacked here to make an observation about Haas as a whole. The rest of the grid needs Red Bull to falter in order for them to do well; these last two races have informed us, the viewers, that Haas need Red Bull as well as the other 16 cars to not just falter but blow up to be successful. 

Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo): Honestly, I’m not doing it intentionally. Yet again I can’t remember what the hell happened with Zhou. At this point I’m questioning if he even exists… 

Unbiased and completely objectional opinion incoming: I can’t see him making it past this year

Nyck de Vries (Alpha Tauri): Much like Zhou I can’t say much about De Vries. But unlike Zhou, it’s because I don’t want to. Unbiased and completely objectional opinion incoming: I can’t see him making it past this year, especially if the rumours of Alpha Tauri being sold come to fruition. 

Oscar Piastri (Mclaren): Even the safest opening lap maneuvering seemed could not ensure a clean start for Piastri as the MANIAC Gasly drove into him. Another DNF for the Aussie flashed through everyone’s minds. What many people weren’t aware of was Piastri doing a “reverse Albon” (see Albon’s tyre strategy for the 2022 Australian Grand Prix for reference).  

A Q3 appearance for Piastri saw him starting on Medium compound tyres which he used for one lap, and then making the switch to Hards for the next 49 laps. It’s outstanding that he was able to be quicker than his teammate in the final stages of the race. Mclaren are now not only wasting Lando, but Oscar too! 

Logan Sargeant (Williams): A qualifying disaster: Lap deleted, then spun out, then mechanical failure. Last week the rundown said points were just on the horizon, but it’s important to remember the horizon is approximately three miles away from the observer.  

Well at least Lando’s making 20 million a year… 

Lando Norris (Mclaren): Well at least Lando’s making 20 million a year… 

Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo): Technically last place which is an achievement for how bad everyone in front of him was. There was probably a fault with the car that I missed but at this point in the rundown I can’t be bothered looking up what happened. 

Alex Albon (Williams): Lap 28 brought about a retirement due to brake failure. Look, I don’t know much about how an F1 car works but I would’ve assumed that the Williams was too slow to even need brakes. Last race it was “Williams might not be bad anymore” and this race proves that these Race Rundowns offer no basis to be taken seriously. 

Lance Stroll (Aston Martin): Stroll is a key member of my Fantasy F1 team so to see him break down crushes me. He had another incredible qualifying and opening to the race. Sadly, the faults were present even on lap 1 and Stroll was continually losing power. The most baffling part of Stroll’s race was alluded to earlier. After he was told to shut off the car, he drove it into a perfectly safe run off which bizarrely caused a safety car to be deployed? This was apparently because the FIA couldn’t see where he was! Maybe the FIA should stop using driver fines on nice dinners and invest in some more cameras. 

Somehow this Rundown is longer than the last. Don’t let that fool any of you keen readers into thinking this was a more exciting race, the brief moments where my stream would cut out offered more excitement than most of the on-track action. Next race is Australia at the fantastic Albert Park circuit, make sure you’re all waking up early at 6am to watch. I know I will, it’s not like I have a dissertation to write or anything! 

Will Stead

Featured image courtesy of shawnanggg via Unsplash. Image use license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 1 courtesy of @fernandoalo_oficial via Instagram. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 2 courtesy of @yukitsunoda0511 via Instagram. No changes were made to this image.

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