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Lewis Wins Chaotic Saudi Arabian GP

Lewis and Max

Lewis Hamilton won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and also got the bonus point for the fastest lap. In second was Max Verstappen followed by Valtteri Bottas in third. The podium must look like the usual but the race was far from that.

Though the title contenders go into the last race tied in the points, this penultimate round was phenomenal. Keeping us on the edge with a lot of controversial moments. And well a lot of stuff to put in order..

The first 10 laps from the 50 went smooth, no incidents and no safety car as predicted. But that’s when it hit –

Red Flag

On Lap 10, Mick Schumacher lost control of his rear and crashed in Turn 22. The same place where Charles Leclerc jammed his Ferrari in FP2. 

This brought out the first Safety Car in the race. Bringing a great opportunity to do a pit stop. The drivers that came in were – Stroll, Russell, Hamilton, Bottas, Leclerc, Perez and Norris.

Red Bull decided not to pit Max Verstappen, and this made him take the lead. It was a gamble as Max would’ve to pit later in the race which would mean that he’ll lose around 23 secs.

The race still looked like it was under Mercedes control until the session was stopped. The red flag on Lap 13 meant Max could get his new hard tyres without losing any time.

Keeping out was a good move from Red Bull. Whereas Hamilton came on the radio to vent out his distaste. 

The top 5 at that time were Verstappen, Lewis, Bottas, Ocon and Ricciardo. The drivers came out for the second start. Standing on the grid with 14 laps down.

Red Flag 2

You knew this was coming. Another Red Flag. But this time it was more crazy than the first one.

The session continued with a standing start with Lap 16. Though Max had a good reaction time according to the stats but it was Hamilton who was ahead. Going into Turn 1, Max went outside the track to keep his position (Remember this). Looking at the opportunity, Ocon put his Alpine in front of Lewis.

The Red Flag came about due to Leclerc hitting the back of Perez’s Red Bull. And the Williams of Russell hitting the front of Mazepin. And that was a bit scary. Perez, Russell and Mazepin were out of the race due the damage.

During the time in the pitlane, conversations went on between FIA and the top 2 teams. A conclusion was reached that Max will have to give back the position to Hamilton when the race restarts due to going outside on Turn 1 (Remember that). 

So now the top 3 were jumbled from Max, Ocon and Lewis to Ocon, Lewis and Max.

The session restarted at Lap 17 with Max on medium tyres. As the lights went out for the third time, Lewis focused on getting ahead of Ocon by trying to catch him on the right. This opened the space in the inside of Turn 1, and Max took the lead. This time it was fair and square.

The top 5 by Lap 19 were Verstappen, Hamilton, Ocon, Ricciardo and Bottas. 

Time For VSCs

Yes, you heard it right (read would be more appropriate). 3 VSCs spread across from Lap 24 to Lap 36.

The first one came when Yuki Tsunoda out braked his AlphaTauri and ended up colliding with the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel. They both went into the wall but recovered. 

However, Tsunoda needed to pit as he lost his front wing. The out braking manoeuvre costed the Japanese a 5 second penalty. 

The second VSC came when there was a car part seen on Turn 13 (the banked turn). Alonso also came on the radio to mention that there was a lot of debris in the inside of Turn 6 and 10.

The reason behind those lone pieces was a collision between Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel (poor guy received so much damage that he had to retire on Lap 46).

This VSC ended on Lap 33. Later on in Lap 36, another bit fell from  the Aston Martin of Vettel. Though, it ended pretty quickly, that is in the same lap.

Confusing Story Ahead

Due to the Virtual Safety Car, drivers have to decrease their speed by 40% which helps in reducing the gap in respect to drivers in front. That is you can be closer to them and attack when the safety car ends.

All this time Lewis Hamilton was chasing Max in front. At Lap 37 (the next lap after the VSC ended), he gained and in Turn 1 made the move. But Max went outside and kept his position. They both went wide. Brazilian GP Turn 4, anyone? 

Because of that move, Max was asked by his team to give the position to Hamilton. So the Dutch slowed down but Hamilton hit the back of the Red Bull. This happened because Lewis had no clue that positions are being swapped. As his team could not transfer the information to him at the right moment. 

This damaged the front wing of the Mercedes. But his team affirmed him that he can still go on.

This made the FIA to hold both of them under investigation. Max was still ahead and had to give the due position back.

So on Lap 42, Max strategically moved aside in the DRS zone. And then get back at Lewis, hence gaining back his position.

Penalty and the Last Podium Place

Verstappen got a five second time penalty. For the collision? No. For the Turn 1 move, where he left the track and gained advantage? Yes.

This made the Dutch leave the fight. Because it would be impossible to pull out a gap of 5 secs from Lewis who was right on his tail. And on Lap 43 Hamilton was leading the race. The hard tyres working out good for him.

Now, coming on to the third place. For a long time it was under the control of Esteban Ocon. But Valtteri Bottas was gaining behind. First he overtook McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo on Lap 40.

After few attempts, he took over Ocon. It was barely 10 metres behind the finish line when the hopes for a podium place shattered for Ocon. And for all of us.

That was a crazy race that went for around 3 hours. Now we can sleep peacefully. But hold on what about the investigation?

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