Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – F1 LIVE: Lap-by-lap updates and result
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix LIVE: World champion Max Verstappen up into sixth place already despite having started 15th… with Sergio Perez leading from Fernando Alonso, George Russell in third and Lewis Hamilton down in eighth
Follow Sportsmail’s live blog for lap-by-lap updates at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton looks to challenge Max Verstappen.
Lance Stroll has stopped on the track. Alonso has missed a chance to come in and box.
Safety car has been deployed, so plenty will take the opportunity to pit now.
Looked like it was Stroll’s breaks which had overheated.
Verstappen is now a pit-stop behind his team-mate. Leclerc pits and the reigning world champion goes up to fourth.
He now has Russell in his sights. That Mercedes car surely doesn’t have it within itself to cope?
Perez goes down the straight, four seconds ahead of Alonso. He was fourth tenths of a second faster than the Spaniard in the last lap.
Sainz has come out of the pits ahead of Lance Stroll.
Leclerc uses DRS and his softs to emerge past Ocon, with Verstappen then doing the same as he comes down the straight.
They now have Sainz in their sights.
A lot of tumult in midfield.
Pit window for those on a soft (13-20) is now open.
Verstappen passes Hamilton with such ease. The trajectory’s of both drivers in their respective cars indicated there.
The Dutchman is up to eighth, with Hamilton dropping back to ninth.
It seems medium-soft tyres is the way to go, with Hamilton not happy on his.
Verstappen is travelling well, with his timings closing in on Hamilton ahead of him. Slightly less drama than previous meetings between these two on this track.
Verstappen started 14th last year and by lap 12 he was leading. He’s currently up to ninth, having found things somewhat more difficult tonight.
Hamilton is not happy about his tyres, it seems.
Alonso is driving brilliantly to stay in that DRS range and stay within a second of the leader.
Hamilton has received a driving standards warning for swerving on the straight. He allows Leclerc to pass him without a fight.
Alonso has opened up a five-second gap between himself and Russell in third.
Leclerc has got past Gasly and is up into eighth, behind Hamilton – who has employed DRS and has daylight between himself and the Ferrari car.
Verstappen is now up to eleventh. Perez will know that he needs to be distance between himself and his Red Bull team-mate – he will fight for victory today.
Alonso is trying to keep in touch with Perez, but his pre-race warnings that Aston Martin do not possess the speed of their Red Bull counterparts is already ringing true.
Verstappen has made up two places. He is going steadily at the moment.
This has been a chaotic start to the race…
And Perez overtakes Alonso and retakes the lead!
Alonso has been told about the penalty, and is remarkably cool about it – responding ‘copy’.
Lando Norris has lost another wing, remarkably. He has endured a horror weekend.
McLaren have endured a horrible start – Oscar Piastri, starting in eighth, is reporting damage.
Alonso has been handed a penalty for an incorrect starting position, he’ll take when he comes in to pit.
Wow, what a start. Alonso is quicker off the start than Perez, and takes the lead immediately.
Lance Stroll then goes round Sainz.
Lights out after a quick formation lap. Alonso has given his rear tires a lot of energy in that formation lap.
Perez has only won one of his eight pole starts so far in his career, in Singapore. He will be wanting to buck that trend today.
27 turns – most of any circuit on the calendar. We are just moments away.
Hamilton is focused on remaining positive. He starts seventh on the grid today.
Lewis Hamilton speaking to Sky Sports said: ‘It’s a beautiful day. I’m looking forward to the race tonight.
‘It’s a new day, a new opportunity to improve, to do better and be better. I’m focused on just being positive and having fun, I love racing and we are so privileged to do what we do so I’m just going to try and enjoy today,
‘I’m naturally going to try and progress forward. George did an amazing job yesterday so he’s got a bit of a different race ahead of him. For me, I am going to try and progress and gain as many points for the team.’
This track has been the site of some of the most dramatic races in recent memory. Who could forget Hamilton’s victory over Verstappen there in 2021 – when the two collided?
Last season, Verstappen underlined his credentials as the man to beat on the circuit with a brilliant victory on what had been described as a dangerous track. He has a lot to do today to repeat the feat.
Alonso in the Aston Martin has been one of the very early season’s revelations. He starts today’s race in second, with Russell behind him in third. Interestingly, his last Grand Prix win came in 2012 when he was driving for… Ferrari. How time flies.
Can he chase down the Red Bull today? He doesn’t think so.
‘We have to be realistic,’ Alonso said. ‘I don’t think we can beat Checo on pace. That’s not the target.’
However, Perez is wary of the threat the Spaniard carries over the 50-lap race.
‘I’m not thinking about where Max can get to – I’ve got to keep this lion behind me,’ he said.
Alonso added that the race is set up for cars to finish where they deserve to, hinting at an expectation Verstappen will make his way through the field.
‘With four DRS zones,’ Alonso said, ‘I think everyone will eventually finish in the position you deserve. Red Bull – even Max starting P15 – should be in front of us, or at least on the podium.’
‘George did a great job and is right up there on the second row. The car obviously has performance,’ he said.
‘I just don’t feel connected to this car. No matter what I do, no matter what I change, I can’t get confidence in it. I’m at a bit of a loss.
‘In the high-speed, the car is a little unstable on my set-up,’ Hamilton added. ‘It is a little different [to Russell’s]. There is one thing I did differently. Maybe it will be OK for [the race] tomorrow but less so for today.’
Team principal Toto Wolff said: ‘Both different drivers need a car, with a certain behaviour, to drive fast, and [for] Lewis at no time this car has given him this season any feedback that allowed him to push to the limit.
‘And if you haven’t got that car underneath you, sector one [of the lap in Jeddah] you can never push it fast through the corners. [The time loss] is all sector one and George just drives around it and is able to have more confidence in the car.’
That said, rumours about Hamilton ditching the team appear wide of the mark.
‘I am not focused on that,’ he said. ‘I love this team. I am so grateful for everyone who has been on this journey with me. I don’t envisage being anywhere else.
‘I don’t see myself quitting. I don’t feel like I am a quitter. But I don’t feel like it’s giving me a lot. But I am trying to be patient and work with the team and get us to a good place. I am not planning on going anywhere.’
He added: ‘There is no such thing as can’t. At the moment it definitely feels like I couldn’t get any more out of the car today but I will keep trying.’
Good afternoon and welcome to today’s live coverage of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The season opener in Bahrain at the start of the month saw Max Verstappen pick up where he left off with an assured drive. Sergio Perez, who is on pole today, came in second as Red Bull’s season got off to the perfect start.
If Verstappen is to repeat last year’s success at this track, he will have to come from 15th after an engine failure yesterday left his qualifying in tatters.
Mercedes, meanwhile, are in real trouble and their season is in danger of spiralling before it’s even started. Lewis Hamilton is in seventh, while George Russell will start in third. That doesn’t look disastrous, but with the noise coming out of the camp at the moment, all is not well.
Full race updates to come from 5.
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