F1 preview: A lap of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
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Red Bull cruised to victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with Sergio Perez taking his first win of the season. Max Verstappen valiantly battled back from P15 to second after a storming drive through the midfield in the opening stages.
But, the result closes the championship battle to within one point with the Dutchman holding a slim advantage over his team-mate. After the race, the pair were embroiled in a tense discussion after it emerged Verstappen may have defied team orders to set the fastest lap.
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes continued to struggle in Jeddah but the squad looked closer to the front than they were in Bahrain. George Russell pipped his team-mate to P4 but was on the receiving end of some harsh words from Hamilton after the race.
In the media pen, he pointed the finger at Russell for usually picking the “wrong” set-ups for races. Fernando Alonso finished P3 but believed he had been stripped of his podium after receiving a 10-second time penalty after the Grand Prix.
He criticised the FIA for a “poor show” in a confusing situation which later saw Alonso reinstated as the third-place finisher after an appeal.
Lewis Hamilton has hit out at George Russell as Red Bull hold awkward talks (Image: Getty)
Fred Vasseur pushes for answers
Fred Vasseur has given an X-rated response to Ferrari’s issues as he pushes to understand why the Prancing Horses are so far behind Red Bull.
“To not bulls*** ourselves,” Vasseur said when asked how Ferrari could get over their current issues. “The most important thing in this kind of situation is to know where we are going well and what we are doing wrong. But we cannot bulls*** ourselves.
“We have to change. We have to understand where we are wrong, and we have to push. It’s not [good enough] to speak, we will not be faster like this.
“For me, the picture is quite clear. The potential of the car is good, but it’s not enough compared to Red Bull, because we are not able to extract the maximum from the car every time.”
Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur is demanding more from his team. (Image: GETTY)
Alonso wants his trophy back
Fernando Alonso has jokingly posted a picture of himself under George Russell’s tweet celebrating third place asking for his trophy back.
The Spaniard initially claimed third place but he later had a 10-second penalty applied meaning he lost the position to Russell.
However, Aston Martin were successful in the appeal with the decision over turned by the stewards late last night.
Alonso has now light-heartedly asked for the trophy back. Mercedes have seen the funny side, posting their own picture with P4 written over the silverware instead.
Hola\ud83d\ude07 \ud83c\udfc6\ud83d\udd19\ud83d\ude07 pic.twitter.com/b8amUuvc08
\u2014 Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) March 20, 2023
Will Lewis Hamilton leave Mercedes?
Lewis Hamilton’s F1 future remains uncertain as the seven-time champion has yet to put pen to paper on a new deal.
Despite speculation increasing, the 38-year-old has repeatedly stood by his time to get things right.
However, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff stressed the German marque were likely to lose his services soon if they could not give him a car capable of fighting for wins.
Some pundits have predicted Hamilton could be prepared to walk away while others are sure Hamilton will not walk away from the team he has won six Drivers’ titles with.
Lewis Hamilton’s F1 future remains undecided (Image: Getty)
Nico Rosberg blasts Max Verstappen
Nico Rosberg has hit out at Max Verstappen for failing to turn up to a Red Bull debrief.
Sky Germany reported that Verstappen skipped the talks and left the track “angrily” after suffering a mechanical failure on Saturday.
The Dutchman was forced to start the race from P15 but worked his way back through the Feld to finish second.
However, Rosberg criticised his decision to dodge the meeting, telling Sky Sports F1: “I think that’s weak at first. What kind of sign is that for the whole team.”
Max Verstappen has criticised Max Verstappen (Image: Getty)
Jos Verstappen ignores Sergio Perez after Saudi GP
Jos Verstappen was spotted blanking Sergio Perez moments after the Mexican secured victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen’s father nodded his head at the Mexican but refused to join in with the jubilant celebrations from the Red Bull mechanics after he picked up his fifth career win.
Verstappen couldn’t catch Perez at the front after a drive shaft issue on Saturday left him out of position.
However, the Dutchman retains the championship lead by one point after stealing the fastest lap right at the end of the race.
Jos Verstappen didn’t celebrate with the team (Image: Sky Sports F1)
Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff disagree over Max Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff have disagreed over Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s current strength.
Hamilton stressed the Red Bull was the fastest car he has ever seen and is even more dominant than Mercedes’ era at the top.
However, Wolff suggested Mercedes were “just as strong” in their peak when they secured eight back-to-back Constructors’ Championships.
Wolff commented: “We have had those years when we were as strong.”
Alonso felt sorry for Russell and Mercedes
Fernando Alonso has revealed he felt sorry for George Russell after the Mercedes star was momentarily denied a podium celebration.
The Spaniard crossed the line in P3 and stood on the podium alongside Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.
However, he later learned he had been stripped of his third place finish after incurring a 10-second time penalty.
In a shock twist, this was later reversed after Aston Martin appealed the FIA’s call.
But, ahead of the protest verdict, Alonso admitted he had sympathy for Russell and Mercedes.
He said: “No, it’s not fair for George, because I guess the Mercedes sponsors would love to be on the podium.”
Fernando Alonso felt sorry for Russell and Mercedes (Image: Sky Sports F1)
Lewis Hamilton ‘didn’t bother’ battling Max Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton has admitted he “didn’t bother” trying to fight Max Verstappen at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Verstappen approached the back of Hamilton after just 12 laps and cruised past his former title rival.
After the race, Hamilton claimed Red Bull’s pace advantage is bigger than Mercedes’ advantage was at the height of their turbo-hybrid era dominance.
Hamilton explained: “I have definitely never seen a car so fast. When we were fast, we were not that fast. It is the fastest car I have seen, especially compared to the rest.
“I don’t know how, but he [Verstappen] came past me with some serious speed and I didn’t even bother to block him because there was a massive speed difference.”
Lewis Hamilton was unable to fight Max Verstappen (Image: Getty)
Toto Wolff reveals new details on Lewis Hamilton contract
Toto Wolff has admitted there is one final thing delaying Lewis Hamilton from signing a new contract at Mercedes.
The Austrian team boss seemed to suggest it was down to the length of Hamilton’s next agreement with the pair yet to commit to “dates”.
Speaking ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Wolff was questioned on how contract negotiations were going as F1’s silly season ramps up.
He responded: “Well, I have no idea what is being said in the silly season.
“I just know where we are with Lewis and with George and nothing else is relevant and we’re talking when we want to do it and how but we just need to change some terms, the dates basically.”
Lewis Hamilton has yet to agree to an extension (Image: Getty)
Hamilton makes George Russell dig
Russell got the better of Hamilton in Jeddah to outscore his more experienced team-mate for the first time this season.
However, Hamilton claimed Russell’s result was down to having a better set-up, something which is a rarity for the ex-Williams star.
He said: “There was a 50-50 choice. I chose one way and he chose another.
“More often than not, the way he went was the wrong one but it just happened to work. I could only match his pace rather than be quicker this weekend but I’ll work hard to make sure we’re in a better place next time.”
Lewis Hamilton made a dig at George Russell (Image: Getty)
Alonso slams the FIA over penalty confusion
Alonso ripped into the FIA after it emerged he had lost his podium after being slapped with a 10-second time penalty.
The Spaniard later had the position reinstated after an appeal from Aston Martin.
However, the Spaniard felt the race stewards should have made the call earlier to give him a fighting chance of pulling out a lead over Mercedes.
He explained: “I think it’s more an FIA poor show today than disappointment from ourselves. When you cannot apply a penalty 35 laps after the pit stop.
“They had enough time to really inform me about the penalty, if I knew that maybe I open 11 seconds to the car behind.”
Alonso was stripped of his podium then later reinstated (Image: Getty)
Red Bull in awkward talks
Sergio Perez praised Max Verstappen for tense talks after the race when it emerged the Dutchman had stolen the fastest lap right at the death,
Perez was on course to lead the championship before Verstappen took away the fastest lap point on the final lap.
However Perez appeared annoyed at Verstappen after it emerged the 25-year-old may have dodged a team request,
In the cool-down room, the Mexican said: “Weren’t you told to keep the pace?”
But, Verstappen defended his decision, adding: “1.33.0, yes. In the end, I asked what the fastest lap was and it was not much faster than we had already driven.”
Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen had talks after the race (Image: Getty)