F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix 2021 LIVE! Hamilton wins - race updates, overtakes, strategies, TV channel

·28 min read
F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix 2021 LIVE! Hamilton wins - race updates, overtakes, strategies, TV channel

Saudi Arabia Grand Prix - LIVE!

Lewis Hamilton won a crazy, twice-halted Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday to send the Formula One world championship into a winner-takes-all final showdown with the Mercedes driver and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen level on points.

On a chaotic night of soaring emotions in Jeddah, the inaugural race in the Gulf kingdom took almost as many twists and turns as an already astonishing and enthralling rollercoaster season.

There were crashes, safety cars, red flags, claims of dirty driving after Hamilton hit the back of Verstappen’s suddenly slowing car, penalties, collisions and extraordinary exchanges between race director Michael Masi and the top two teams.

Seven-times world champion Hamilton took the bonus point for fastest lap to level with Verstappen on 369.5 points after 21 races.

The final round of the season is at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina next weekend.

Verstappen, who finished second with Valtteri Bottas third for Mercedes, leads nine-eight on wins, however, meaning that the Dutchman will be champion if neither score a point in Abu Dhabi.

Read More

Saudi Arabia Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton takes dramatic pole as Max Verstappen crashes out at final corner

Lewis Hamilton reveals he feels uncomfortable in Saudi Arabia and hits out at ‘pretty terrifying’ LGBT+ laws

Lewis Hamilton’s title duel with Max Verstappen could turn nasty in fiery final showdowns, warns Damon Hill

Saudi Arabia Grand Prix latest news

  • Hamilton wins the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix!

  • Lap 38: Hamilton and Verstappen collide

  • Lap 17: Verstappen takes lead with brilliant restart

  • Lap 15: Second red flag after chaotic start

  • Lap 13: Red flag after Schumacher crash

  • Lap 1: Hamilton keeps lead into first corner

Lando Norris has his say

21:14 , Matt Verri

“Probably the worst rule ever invented by someone, being able to pit under red flags.

“It’s luck, and it’s not deserved. It’s a crap rule that ruins everything.”

Lando Norris making his opinion on how things unfolded with the red flags very clear.

Could race wins prove crucial?

21:05 , Matt Verri

Max Verstappen has nine wins this season, one more than Lewis Hamilton has managed.

That means if neither drivers scores a point next week in Abu Dhabi, Verstappen will be world champion.

Let’s hope that’s not how it’s decided, because it probably means the two of them have crashed!

The Brit is not happy with Verstappen’s driving style

20:49 , Matt Verri

“I really had to try and keep my cool out there, which was really difficult to do.

“I’ve raced a lot of drivers in my life, through the 28 years. I’ve come across a lot of different characters.

“There’s a few at the top who are over the limit, and rules don’t apply or they don’t think of the rules.”

Lewis Hamilton on Verstappen

20:47 , Matt Verri

“He’s over the limit for sure. I’ve avoided a collision on so many occasions with the guy, and I don’t always mind being the one that does that.

“You live to fight another day, which I obviously did.”

Horner’s rallying cry

20:40 , Matt Verri

“This team has put together a phenomenal campaign this year. We’ve won ten races.

“We’ve taken Mercedes - who would have thought that coming into the year - all the way to the final race.

“Constructors we’re on the back-foot, we need a miracle to win that. But we’ve got one more shot to have a go at winning this title with Max.

“We will do everything. We’ll prepare, we’ll regroup. The guys aren’t down, they can be proud of what they’ve achieved and the effort that’s gone in. We’ll see.”

Horner proud of Verstappen’s efforts

20:38 , Matt Verri

“The first sector is down to the driver, and the next two sections are engine-dominated.

“Anybody can drive easy down the straight bits. What Max was able to do through the demands of sector one was truly impressive.

“If you look at the difference in performance around the lap, it was remarkable what he was able to do.”

Horner’s reaction

20:36 , Matt Verri

“That was a race that was very difficult to manage, and I think race control struggled with it.

“We feel hard done by with the five-second penalty. The incident where Lewis has driven up the back of Max... Max was trying to give the place up, we informed race control we were going to give the place up.

“He lifted off, I think Lewis also lifted off. I don’t know if he’s messing around for the DRS but it was clear that we were giving the place up.

“Lewis is slowing down behind him. It’s like he didn’t want to pass him there, because of the DRS.”

20:29 , Matt Verri

Christian Horner now up for his post-race thoughts.

He’s not impressed with race control or Lewis Hamilton...

Picture tells the story...

20:26 , Matt Verri

 (AP)
(AP)

More from Toto Wolff

20:22 , Matt Verri

“I don’t think that we will even got [to the stewards].

“It’s really the driving that needs to be assessed and looked at. It’s hard, very hard, maybe over-the-line hard.

“We just want to have a clean championship - may the best man win. If it’s Max at the end, then I have peace with that.

“But it needs to be a clean race.”

20:20 , Matt Verri

Max Verstappen given the ‘Driver of the Day’ by the fans. His reaction when told over the radio at the end of the race:

“Luckily the fans have a clear mind about racing,” Verstappen said.

“I’m just trying to race. This sport is more about penalties than racing. I’m pleased the fans enjoyed it and I gave it my all today.”

Toto Wolff’s thoughts

20:17 , Matt Verri

“That was spectacular, but not a good race.”

The Mercedes principal is really unhappy with that incident that saw Hamilton go into the back of Verstappen. He thinks there is more to come from the stewards.

Mercedes enjoyed that one...

20:15 , Matt Verri

Constructor Standings

20:11 , Matt Verri

With Hamilton winning and Bottas sneaking third on the line, Mercedes took a big step towards another title. Verstappen finished in second, but Perez crashed out for Red Bull earlier on in the race.

It means Mercedes head to Abu Dhabi with a 28-point lead over their big rivals.

Hamilton’s reaction

20:05 , Matt Verri

“I’ve been racing a long time, but that was incredibly tough! I tried to be as tough and as sensible as I could out there, with all my experience over the years... It’s difficult, but we persevered as a team.”

20:03 , Matt Verri

Verstappen walks straight off the podium. In no mood for celebrating.

Safe to say he’s very much not impressed with how the race played out. He’s also been summoned to the stewards, so it could yet get worse.

Bottas gives his thoughts

20:00 , Matt Verri

“It was not an easy day with all the red flags. It wasn’t easy to overtake but I just kept pushing and it was great to take the podium place right at the end there.”

Verstappen’s reaction

19:57 , Matt Verri

“It was eventful, a lot of things happened that I don’t fully agree with but it is what it is.

“I slowed down, I wanted to let him by, I was on the right but he didn’t want to overtake and we touched. I don’t really understand what happened there.”

19:50 , Matt Verri

Max Verstappen 369.5 points. Lewis Hamilton 369.5 points.

Incredible week in Abu Dhabi coming up...

19:45 , Matt Verri

It’s an unhappy team radio for Verstappen and Red Bull. They’re not happy with some of the decisions.

Hamilton out of his car, and there’s wild celebrations with the Mercedes team next to him. Thrilling win for them.

19:41 , Matt Verri

Verstappen cruises round in second... AND BOTTAS HAS STOLEN THIRD ON THE LINE!

One last bit of drama. The Finn has snatched the podium place in the final few metres. What a weekend for Mercedes.

LEWIS HAMILTON WINS THE SAUDI ARABIA GRAND PRIX!

19:40 , Matt Verri

WHAT. A. RACE.

Astonishing drama in Jeddah. Red flags, safety cars, crashes, Verstappen and Hamilton contact... and it’s all finished with Hamilton winning the race!

We head to Abu Dhabi completely level.

19:39 , Matt Verri

50/50: One more lap to go!

Bottas now 0.5s off Ocon, who is hanging on with everything he has. Hamilton continues to fly away at the front.

19:38 , Matt Verri

49/50: Job is nearly done for Hamilton in Saudi Arabia.

He will have the fastest lap now, Verstappen not making any attempt at it. He just wants to get those tyres home.

19:36 , Matt Verri

48/50: Hamilton goes yet faster, despite bits of his car still flicking off. He’s now seven seconds clear of Verstappen, putting on a show.

Bottas closing in on Ocon, but can’t quite get through on the straight.

19:35 , Matt Verri

47/50: Bottas is in fourth, and Mercedes are urging him on. He’s less than a second behind Ocon in third.

Hamilton told to be careful with his front wing, which is definitely damaged.

19:34 , Matt Verri

46/50: Verstappen wants to know if he can pit, but his team tell him the gap to Ocon isn’t quite big enough. Vettel out of the race, the fifth driver to not see the chequered flag.

19:32 , Matt Verri

45/50: So Hamilton now nearly four seconds up, with five laps remaining. He’s roaring away.

The Mercedes man also has the fastest lap for now. It means we would be heading to Abu Dhabi completely level!

19:30 , Matt Verri

44/50: HAMILTON HAS THE LEAD!

And properly this time! So Hamilton has the lead, and Verstappen still has the five second penalty on top.

It’s taken a long time, but Mercedes now back in control. Looks like Verstappen let him through there... his team then tell him he didn’t necessarily have to.

19:29 , Matt Verri

43/50: WHAT IS GOING ON?!

Verstappen slows down, and lets Hamilton through. But almost immediately he cuts straight back inside, and he’s back in front down the back straight!

The Dutchman has now been given a five-second time penalty. He’s still in front for now. Hamilton must have had the lead for less than two seconds.

19:27 , Matt Verri

42/50: Hamilton puts in the fastest lap of the race. It’s not doing him too much good yet, Verstappen still clear of him.

Replays show Verstappen did slow down a few laps ago to let Hamilton go through, but the Mercedes driver didn’t seem to know what was happening.

19:25 , Matt Verri

41/50: Race control have told Red Bull to give the place back again. Let’s see if that can happen without damage this time.

Hamilton’s front wing is damaged, but it isn’t slowing him down too much.

Verstappen not giving this place back yet. The gap is still nearly two seconds.

Hamilton not a happy man

19:24 , Matt Verri

19:23 , Matt Verri

40/50: This is absolutely mad. Hamilton telling his team Verstappen brake tested him. Stewards investigating.

Verstappen was told by his team to give the place back, he obviously hasn’t done that now, and he’s nearly two seconds ahead.

Who knows what comes now!

19:21 , Matt Verri

38/50: HAMILTON AND VERSTAPPEN CRASH!!

Verstappen gets told to give the place to Hamilton, so he slowed down but Hamilton wasn’t expecting it and he goes flying into the back of Verstappen. Big contact!

19:19 , Matt Verri

37/50: Virtual safety car ended already though, and Hamilton is much closer to Verstappen now. He’s right in range now.

THEY GO WHEEL-TO-WHEEL.... Verstappen holds on!! Just. Wow.

Hamilton looked like he had the speed on the straight, but Verstappen on the inside was having none of it. They definitely touched, and Hamilton is furious. Lead back out to 1.5s now.

19:17 , Matt Verri

36/50: Every lap seems to be following the same pattern... Hamilton closes in down the back straight and looks like he’ll get the gap under a second, but Verstappen gets it back to 1.5s again in the first sector.

Huge piece of debris on the track, and we have another virtual safety car. This will be really frustrating Hamilton.

19:15 , Matt Verri

35/50: Hamilton flying down the back straight, and he’s only one second behind now. But Verstappen again is rapid through the first sector, and he pulls away slightly again.

Ocon is nearly 18s behind Hamilton, just to show how good the leading duo are.

19:13 , Matt Verri

33/50: Virtual safety car ends, and we’re back racing at last!

Hamilton now 1.7s behind Verstappen... hasn’t worked out particularly well for him at all.

19:11 , Matt Verri

32/50: Laps are slowly ticking away, under this virtual safety car.

Hamilton sticking as close as he’s allowed behind Verstappen, ready for whenever we get back to full racing.

19:08 , Matt Verri

31/50: Verstappen won’t be unhappy with all these delays. Helps his cause in getting the medium tyres to the end of the race.

Alonso very much unimpressed it’s only a virtual safety car - he wants the track cleared properly. Plenty of work to do for the marshals.

19:05 , Matt Verri

30/50: Lots of debris on the track, with Alonso one of those complaining about the state of the circuit.

And we have another virtual safety car - drivers decrease speed by 40%. Again.

19:04 , Matt Verri

28/50: Pieces of Vettel’s car flying off, after Raikkonen collides with him. Messy afternoon for the German. Tsunoda gets a five-second time penalty.

Bottas still back in fifth, frustrated by Ricciardo and Ocon ahead of him.

19:02 , Matt Verri

27/50: Vettel going really slowly now, and his car is not looking in great shape. He wasn’t to blame for that crash with Tsunoda, but he’s paying the price.

Hamilton with another fastest lap and is briefly within half a second, but it’s back out to 1.4s now.

19:00 , Matt Verri

26/50: Tsunoda is back in the race after that crash, with stewards looking into the incident. He’s right at the back of the field though.

Alonso slides off, but just about manages to avoid the barriers. Hamilton 1.3s behind Verstappen.

18:58 , Matt Verri

25/50: Tsunoda went off after colliding with Vettel. The two Ferraris behind went wheel-to-wheel, and very nearly took each other out. Leclerc took evasive action and went wide, but in doing so kept the place.

Virtual safety car over, we are back racing!

18:56 , Matt Verri

23/50: Bottas is trying to get back into the podium places. He’s fifth, but pushing Ricciardo hard.

Tsunoda has gone off, and his front wing is on the track. Brakes are smoking heavily too. Yellow flags, and now a virtual safety car.

They’ll all carry on at the same pace now, so theoretically gaps should remain the same.

18:53 , Matt Verri

22/50: Hamilton flying on the hard tyre... remains to be seen if Verstappen’s mediums can see out the rest of the race.

The Brit was briefly within a second, but the gap is back to 1.5s now. DRS enabled by race control.

18:51 , Matt Verri

20/50: The drama isn’t done, not by a long way. Verstappen claiming about a lack of power... Red Bull will be very nervous hearing that.

His team tell him it’s just the battery topping up. Hamilton desperate to try and get within DRS range.

The two of them have pulled away from the field. Ocon more than five seconds back from Verstappen now.

18:49 , Matt Verri

19/50: Hamilton’s right front wing definitely made contact with Ocon, but fortunately for him doesn’t appear to be any real damage.

The Mercedes driver puts in the fastest lap of the race. He’s on the charge. Gap is 1.5s to Verstappen.

18:47 , Matt Verri

18/50: Hamilton started well and cut across the track, but Verstappen was so brave down the inside and he’s got his reward.

Hamilton HAS to find a way past Ocon, and quickly. Ricciardo in fourth, Bottas fith, and Gasly in sixth.

Hamilton overtakes Ocon! He’s into second, great pace from the Mercedes.

LIGHTS OUT!

18:45 , Matt Verri

17/50: Let’s try again.... LIGHTS OUT!

VERSTAPPEN TAKES THE LEAD! STUNNING START DOWN THE INSIDE!

Hamilton got sandwiched in the middle, but he’s just about kept it on the track. Incredible start.

Verstappen, Ocon, Hamilton.

18:44 , Matt Verri

We’ve lost Perez, Russell and Mazepin from the race. As well as Schumacher earlier on.

Down to 16 drivers. Cars getting back round to the grid now, back underway very shortly!

18:42 , Matt Verri

It will be a standing start once again. Do not rule out yet more carnage...

Verstappen right up behind Hamilton, almost wanting to push the Mercedes around the track.

18:41 , Matt Verri

Cars back out onto the track, coming out of the pits. Verstappen lets Hamilton through.

Hamilton is on the hard tyres, with Verstappen on the mediums. Ocon started the race in ninth, but he’s now leading the race.

18:35 , Matt Verri

So it looks like the front three for the restart has been decided. Slightly strange to hear them negotiating punishments, but very entertaining.

Race director Michael Masi will have plenty of work to do to decide how he’s going to order the midfield.

18:32 , Matt Verri

Now the race director speaking to Mercedes. He says he’s proposing Ocon, Hamilton, Verstappen as the restart.

Mercedes seem quite content with that. Offer still with Red Bull. If they reject it, you’d assume it will go to the stewards.

Red Bull say they accept it, but they also have a couple of things they want to be investigated. Particularly Hamilton’s pace on the formation lap.

18:30 , Matt Verri

Toto Wolff is marching down the pit-lane, clearly not impressed with what he saw.

Race director speaking to Red Bull... says Verstappen can restart in second. Red Bull say they’ll discuss and get back to him.

Tense negotiations! Red Bull say they will accept P2, as long as Ocon is on pole. Race director says Verstappen would be behind Hamilton.

Red Bull far less keen on that, as you would expect.

18:26 , Matt Verri

Mazepin’s car is in pieces, and Sergio Perez also went off after contact with Charles Leclerc. Bottas locked up, and there was complete chaos in the midfield.

Who knows what order we will restart in!

18:23 , Matt Verri

Hamilton was way in front on the replays, and Verstappen has not made the first corner and gone straight. Forced Hamilton wide, and Ocon then got in front of the Mercedes. Verstappen could be in a bit of trouble for that.

Stewards will be taking a very keen look at that.

18:21 , Matt Verri

RED FLAG AGAIN!

This is madness. Verstappen has the lead, but he could be well be told to give that place back. It looked like Hamilton was definitely in front going into the first corner.

Mazepin’s car smashed up, that’s why we have another red flag.

LIGHTS OUT!

18:20 , Matt Verri

15/50: Back underway again in Jeddah!

Hamilton has got off to a stunning start, and he goes ahead of Verstappen into the first corner! But then the Dutchman forces him wide and they both leave the track... and Verstappen is back in front.

It’s carnage! Perez gets hit, and it’s an absolute mess. Another safety car already!

18:19 , Matt Verri

Verstappen moaning about how slow the safety car is, and then also complains that Hamilton is hanging back too far.

Both drivers trying to get every possible edge over each other that they possibly can. Verstappen also now irritated.

18:17 , Matt Verri

Formation lap for the drivers. Hamilton complaining that Verstappen did a practice start on his way out of the pit lane.

Safe to say the Mercedes driver is not in the best of moods.

18:15 , Matt Verri

Here we go then, we will be getting back underway in a matter of seconds.

You’d imagine Hamilton is going to be going very hard at this start, to try and get back in front of Verstappen immediately.

18:13 , Matt Verri

Hamilton asks his team what the plan is now.

They tell him he has the pace, and all he needs to do is pressure Verstappen. They’ve made it sound very simple...

18:12 , Matt Verri

Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Ocon, Ricciardo, Leclerc, Gasly, Perez, Sainz, Giovinazzi.

That’s the top ten when we restart.

18:11 , Matt Verri

36 laps of the race remaining, when we start again in about five minutes. It’s going to be tense!

18:06 , Matt Verri

Race will resume in ten minutes - 18:15 GMT.

Stewards saying some of the barrier has been punctured, and so they need a crane on the track to lift it up and replace that section.

18:05 , Matt Verri

Verstappen effectively has the pole position he nearly secured yesterday. On a track where track position is everything, it’s Red Bull who have it.

Schumacher’s crash could have had a decisive impact in the title race.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

18:01 , Matt Verri

Hamilton asks his team whether this means Verstappen can now change tyres... he’s not going to like the response.

He is furious, insisting that the barrier looks fine and there’s no need for a red flag. Hamilton telling his team to find out why the race has been stopped.

17:58 , Matt Verri

13/50: Hamilton and Bottas lurking behind Verstappen, ready for the race to get back underway. They’re in control now, so the Dutchman has to build up a big lead to give him room for a pit stop.

Also bad news for Perez. He pitted, and is down in eighth place.

RED FLAG! WOW. Verstappen will now be able to pit. This is a massive moment in the race, and the title battle.

17:55 , Matt Verri

12/50: So it’s a mixed up top ten now, with a mix of those who have pitted and those who have decided to stay out.

Verstappen leads, with Ocon and Ricciardo also in the top five. They all opted against coming in.

17:53 , Matt Verri

12/50: Verstappen and Red Bull angry with Bottas... they feel the Mercedes driver was slowing down deliberately, to allow the team to do two pit spots.

That isn’t allowed, so Bottas could be in a bit of trouble if the stewards look into that. Verstappen then calls for the safety car to go faster.

17:51 , Matt Verri

11/50: Hamilton going to use the chance to pit, and so does Bottas. Both Mercedes come in.

Max Verstappen stays out, and he will lead the race for now behind the safety car. Gamble from Red Bull.

17:49 , Matt Verri

10/50: So, this is how we stand after the first ten laps in Jeddah.

Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez, Norris, Ocon, Ricciardo, Giovinazzi.

SCHUMACHER OFF! He’s gone into the barriers, and that looks a heavy crash. Good to hear him confirm he’s ok, and that will be a safety car.

17:47 , Matt Verri

9/50: Hamilton with a faster lap, responding after Mercedes told him to up the pace to help out Bottas behind him. He now leads his teammate by more than 2.5 seconds.

17:45 , Matt Verri

8/50: Giovinazzi gets past Alonso, and into 10th. Sainz now also pushing his fellow Spaniard too.

Ricciardo then uses DRS well, and he’s easily into 8th as he goes past Gasly. Sainz then makes the overtake on Alonso.

Verstappen now almost three seconds behind Hamilton.

17:43 , Matt Verri

6/50: Alonso runs deep at turn one... in fact he goes straight on. Giovinazzi pressuring him behind, in the battle for tenth place.

Bottas asking for more of a gap in front of him, wants Hamilton to push on so he isn’t racing in the dirty air.

17:40 , Matt Verri

5/50: Red Bull will be frustrated that Perez hasn’t been able to get past Leclerc. They need their man up in the top four helping his teammate.

Bottas puts in the fastest lap of the race, in the early stages. The Mercedes duo look really quick.

17:39 , Matt Verri

4/50: Perez locked up going into the first corner, as he desperately avoided going into the back of Verstappen. Ocon and Tsunoda made contact, but managed to avoid a serious incident.

Hamilton leads by nearly a second and a half over Bottas, who is more than a second up on Verstappen.

17:36 , Matt Verri

2/50: Sainz back in 15th as ground to make up, and he does well to get past Raikkonen. Up to 13th, is the Ferrari driver. Norris with a decent start too, now in sixth.

This has been a brilliant start for Mercedes. They’ve got complete control of this race.

LIGHTS OUT!

17:34 , Matt Verri

Lights out in Saudi Arabia!

It’s a great start for both Hamilton and Bottas, and it’s as we started going into the first corner.

Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez. Perez very, very nearly took out Verstappen, as he flew towards the back of his teammate.

17:33 , Matt Verri

Hamilton and Bottas want a nice quick formation lap, getting those tyres warm and back to the grid as soon as they can.

The Mercedes duo are lined up, ready to go. As is Verstappen. Seconds away now...

17:30 , Matt Verri

Lando Norris, in seventh, starting on the soft tyre. Rest of the top ten are on the mediums.

Formation lap is underway,

17:28 , Matt Verri

A few minutes away from 50 laps around the street circuit in Jeddah.

A reminder... Hamilton on pole, with Bottas alongside him on the front-row. Verstappen is third, right behind his title rival.

Leclerc starts fourth, with Red Bull’s Perez back in fifth.

17:22 , Matt Verri

Helmets going on for the drivers, we are very close to the start of the race. Should be a thrilling start, as Verstappen does everything he can to get ahead early of Bottas and Hamilton early on.

17:17 , Matt Verri

George Russell on the grid - says he doesn’t want to bring bad news, but he thinks overtaking will be difficult in the race.

With the speed of the track, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a safety car at some point.

17:12 , Matt Verri

Grid is absolutely packed, with just under 20 minutes to go until lights out.

Such a quick track, a tight track... and it’s one that will provide plenty of drama over the next couple of hours. It could even bring a world championship title.

17:06 , Matt Verri

Red Bull’s Adrian Newey: “We did all the checks we can [on Verstappen’s car], from what we can see everything is okay.”

Admits they can’t be sure though, as they can’t take the gearbox apart without being given a penalty.

Track position

17:03 , Matt Verri

As with many street circuits, overtaking is expected to be difficult this afternoon. That means track position is key... and Mercedes have that.

Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner admitted as much after qualifying yesterday, accepting that it could prove really difficult to overtake.

Expect Max Verstappen to be really aggressive at the start, knowing that could be his best chance of getting ahead of at least one of the Mercedes cars.

Lovely tribute to Sir Frank Williams

16:57 , Matt Verri

16:54 , Matt Verri

Verstappen out on his formation lap now... well it’s all working for now!

Whether his car, or more specifically the gearbox, is up for the rigours of a full race remains to be seen.

16:52 , Matt Verri

Cars are out in the pit lane, with just under 40 minutes to go until lights out. Drivers taking the chance to get a go at a practice start.

No sign of Verstappen out yet.

No damage for Verstappen

16:41 , Matt Verri

Red Bull are confident there is no gearbox damage to Verstappen’s car, despite him going into the wall at the end of qualifying. There would have been a five-place grid penalty had they needed to change that.

They can do all the checks in the garage, but they can’t be fully sure how the car will be out on the track. It’s a risk not changing the gearbox, and it could backfire horribly for Verstappen and his team.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Hamilton’s thoughts...

16:34 , Matt Verri

“The track is unbelievably hard,” Hamilton said. “The wind shifted a bit so we had a tail wind into Turn One where on Friday it was a head-wind, and it shifted the balance a little but.

“I don’t understand, but at the last race super-slow crawling around on the tyres to be ready for lap one and then here we are doing super-fast out laps, weaving trying to get the tyres ready.

“That meant you arrived in Turn One and sometimes it was there and sometimes it wasn’t, you’re just skating, the balance was all over the place, all over the lap.

“To put a lap together was tough. I couldn’t match what [Verstappen] was doing at the end but we stayed out of the wall and did the job.”

Could be all over this afternoon....

16:30 , Matt Verri

Here are the scenarios that would see Verstappen win his first world championship this afternoon:

  • Verstappen finishes first and claims the fastest lap point, with Hamilton sixth or lower.

  • Verstappen finishes first and does not claim the fastest lap point, with Hamilton seventh or lower.

  • Verstappen finishes second and claims the fastest lap point, with Hamilton tenth or lower.

  • Verstappen finishes second and does not claim the fastest lap point, with Hamilton not scoring a point.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

How it stands

16:19 , Matt Verri

There’s two big title battles going on, and this afternoon will be pivotal to both.

Verstappen leads Hamilton by eight points in the world championship, with just this race and then next week in Abu Dhabi to go. Should Hamilton win today with the fastest lap, and Verstappen finish second, we’d head to the final race of the season with both drivers on exactly the same number of points.

In the constructors championship, Mercedes have the edge by five points over Red Bull. With Sergio Perez down in fifth, and Mercedes on the front-row, it’s a big advantage for them.

Qualifying

16:06 , Matt Verri

So it’s Hamilton on pole after Verstappen’s final-corner error. The Dutchman will be behind Valtteri Bottas, with Mercedes enjoying a front-row lockout. Here’s the top ten on the grid this afternoon and their times in qualifying yesterday.

You can read all about the action from qualifying right here.

1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1 minute, 27.511 seconds.

2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes 1:27.622.

3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:27.653.

4. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 1:28.054.

5. Sergio Perez, Red Bull 1:28.123.

6. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, 1:28.125.

7. Lando Norris, McLaren, 1:28.180.

8. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, 1:28.442.

9. Esteban Ocon, Alpine, 1:28.647.

10. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, 1:28.754

How to watch Saudi Arabia Grand Prix

15:45 , Matt Verri

TV channel: Today’s race will be shown LIVE on Sky Sports F1 and Main Event. Coverage of starts at 4pm on F1 and 5pm on Main Event.

Live stream: Sky Sports subscribers can also stream the action live online via the SkyGo app.

Click here to read the full blog on The Evening Standard's website

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting