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Verstappen taking no prisoners in Hamilton title fight - What we learned at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Verstappen taking no prisoners in Hamilton title fight - What we learned at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

F1 News


Verstappen taking no prisoners in Hamilton title fight - What we learned at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Verstappen taking no prisoners in Hamilton title fight - What we learned at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

What a race we were treated to at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton drew level with Max Verstappen after a race filled with controversy.

Valtteri Bottas finished third with Sergio Perez retiring to all but confirm another Mercedes constructors' triumph.

With the flashpoints between the two title rivals leaving the season-finale in Abu Dhabi perfectly poised, let's take a look at what we learned at a fiery penultimate round at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Verstappen taking no prisoners

For the second time in three races, Verstappen's defence of the lead was robust to say the least.

Throughout the season it has been clear that if Verstappen has the inside line, he will be the only driver making the corner whilst staying on the road. We saw this at the start of the season in Imola and Catalunya and he has continued his staunch defences, something he is absolutely within his right to do.

The issue with the controversial Brazil incident was that the Dutchman himself didn't make the corner without running wide, and the move in Jeddah which landed him a five-second penalty was borderline out-of-control and dangerous.

Verstappen still has the lead over Hamilton by virtue of winning more races throughout the campaign but it is clear that his racing style won't change and he is taking no prisoners in his quest for a maiden world title.

Luck will play a part in championship fight

During the various twists and turns the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix threw at us, it looked as though the race had fallen neatly into Verstappen's grasp when red flags were thrown only after Mercedes had pitted both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas under the safety car.

Hamilton was understandably crestfallen with the quirk of the rules allowing Verstappen to effectively take his pit stop during the delay and thus gain track position.

Whilst the end result wasn't directly affected by the change given the chaos that followed, it was a timely reminder that luck has as much a part to play in this title fight as talent does.

Before any cries of injustice come from Mercedes' corner, let's not forget Hamilton saved a chunk of points with a red flag period in Imola allowing for fresh tyres and the opportunity to get a lap back following his off-track excursion.

Lack of FIA control adds to confusion

In the heat of an incredible F1 season, the FIA has often been at the centre of fighting between Red Bull and Mercedes.

Whilst there have been incidents and disagreements here and there - as there always will be - race director Michael Masi and his team of stewards have generally done a fantastic job of keeping the status quo in the sport.

Yet in Jeddah amongst all the drama and chaos, there seemed to be too much of a reluctance to initially get involved.

There was haggling over grid positions and heated radio discussions amidst other issues. When F1 needed a calm referee the sport didn't quite get it from the FIA, as pointed out by Christian Horner.

With what is going on the job is one almost nobody in the world would want to take. But with the confusion emanating during the race, the craziness seen in the second half could well have been avoided.

Jeddah safety concerns need addressing

There is no doubt the Hermann Tilke designed circuit in use was absolutely spectacular.

There were scintillating corner combinations that made even the armchair viewer take a step back in awe, the speeds achieved boggling the mind around a street circuit.

Yet there were fears about the safety of such a layout entering the weekend and whilst the hospitalisation of Théo Pourchaire and Enzo Fittipaldi - the latter suffering a fractured heel - after a crash in the F2 feature race could have happened at any venue, the pinball-like crash that claimed George Russell and Nikita Mazepin was ugly.

Much like the issues that concern drivers at Eau Rouge, the way cars can cannon back across the track at high speeds in front of traffic can draw ire, especially after the tragic events in Belgium in 2019.

That may need to be improved ahead of next year, but credit must be given to the safety infrastructure at turn 22, where after big incidents both Charles Leclerc and Mick Schumacher were able to walk away unscathed.

F1 given a gift

Whilst you may choose sides with a driver or a team, make sure you take a step back to appreciate the mammoth sporting feats being achieved by Hamilton and Verstappen week-in, week-out.

The pair are at the absolute top of their games, offering perhaps the greatest title fight F1 has ever seen.

For only the second time in the history of the sport, the fight goes down to the last race with both competitors tied on points.

Neither driver deserves to lose and whilst one will taste absolute glory, the other will no doubt feel defeated right up until the start of 2022 pre-season testing.

We are witnessing something special, just enjoy it.

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