7 Takeaways from the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

I told myself that the number of takeaways I’d have for each race would differ from race-to-race and I’d just have to be okay with the lack of symmetry. For a while, I thought I would have nine takeaways once again this week and my subconscious would be smiling, but no. I have seven.

We will just have to accept it.

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix made its Formula 1 debut last year, as the penultimate race of the season. You may remember it as the race where (deep breath): Max Verstappen slowed down to allow Lewis Hamilton to pass and reclaim the position Verstappen had unfairly gained, but Hamilton didn’t know what was going on and crashed into the back of Verstappen instead…before going on to win the race and giving us a tie in the drivers’ championship, heading into the final race of the season (exhale).

A true “what in the world is going on” moment for all.

Race Results

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
5. George Russell (Mercedes)
6. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
7. Lando Norris (McLaren)
8. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
9. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
10. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

11. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)
12. Nico Hulkenberg (Aston Martin)
13. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
14. Alex Albon (Williams) – DNF
15. Valterri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) – DNF
16. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) – DNF
17. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) – DNF
18. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) – DNF
19. Yuki Tsunoad (AlphaTauri) – DNS

Mick Schumacher (Haas) crashed during Saturday’s qualifying session and did not race on Sunday.

Takeaways

1. Cheering for Ferrari

I found myself facing a psychological conundrum during the race. When Red Bull and Ferrari were fighting on track, I was cheering for Ferrari to get the upper hand. In recent years, I have been all aboard the Red Bull train, but now I have seemingly given them the unintentional cold shoulder.

This is more about me than it is about them, I think. I like rooting for the underdog, especially in situations where my loyalty is not firmly tied down to one team. Don’t get me wrong, I still like Red Bull and their drivers. But now that Ferrari can compete with them again, my gut instinct has me rooting for Ferrari, just like I did when I was a child.

I can’t control it, don’t get mad at me.

2. Is Haas the 4th Best Team?

What a question to ask. For now, I think they are in the mix with about 2-3 other teams for that distinction, but they have been impressive. Mick Schumacher may have snuck into the third qualifying session if he hadn’t crashed. Such a thing was unimaginable last year.

A happy Guenther Steiner (Team Principal) is just good for the sport, too. Formula 1 can be so serious and cutthroat at times, but when someone good happens for Haas, Steiner is full of jubilation.

3. Play Nice, Pink

A few years ago, Force India (and then Racing Point) raced a pink car around the track to coincide with the colours of their title sponsor, BWT. Well, that team is now Aston Martin and ditched the pink livery last year.

Now, BWT is the new title sponsor of Alpine. When Alpine unveiled their car this year, it was mainly blue, with pink on the wings and side pods. It kind of looks like a candy wrapper that would “stand out” on a shelf at the gas station.

However, they also announced that for the first two races, the car would be mainly pink. I have always loved the pink cars. They stand out. They add some colour to the track. I think they should stay with pink for the entire season, but they aren’t.

I’m not a big fan of black, white, or grey cars, although the black Mercedes looked really good last year. I miss the Jaguar green and the Renault yellow from years past.

I’m waiting for someone to do a dark purple with yellow trim colour scheme.

Anyway, going back to the Force India days, we have seen teammates in the pink cars race each other a bit too aggressively and take each other out. It’s great drama for the viewer.

Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon were doing that again on Sunday. A back-and-forth battle between teammates that didn’t result in any retirements from the race, but Bottas eventually caught up to them.

4. Danger! Danger!

The 27-turn track is the longest on the F1 calendar and its combination of high-speed, and blind, corners make it dangerous. I don’t know what qualifier I should’ve used before saying “dangerous”. Is it “a bit”, “quite”, “somewhat”, “extremely”, or “the most”? I’m leaning towards “the most dangerous” track in F1.

Mick Schumacher had a hard crash into the wall in qualifying and was airlifted to hospital for precautionary checks. He is okay. He did not race on Sunday. The car was wrecked and even if they could repair it in time, it was best to let Schumacher take it easy.

The words, “airlifted to hospital” are three words you never want to hear in any setting. Although they made some alterations to the track this year – in the name of safety – I don’t think it was enough.

The track is like a high-speed Monaco. The walls feel like they’re on top of you.

I don’t know what the solution is. Make it less narrow?

5. Hot! Hot! Hot!

Many times, I have watched a Formula 1 race and wondered how the drivers can survive the heat for an hour and a half. From the heavy, thick, fireproof race suits, to their fishbowl helmets, to being placed in the car like a sardine in a can, I would be sweating before even leaving the pit lane.

Yes, that was an intentional armpit pun.

The weather app on my phone tells me that temperatures this week in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia hover around a daily high of 35 degrees Celsius, and a low of 24 degrees Celsius. The race was at night to help combat the heat, but still, hot is hot.

The drivers are connected to a water bottle in the car and I’ve always imagined it to be like drinking boiling water. They were drenched in sweat after the race, as their teams brought them fluids.

Now, think about how the cars must overheat. And they did.

On Lap 38, Valtteri Bottas, Fernando Alonso, and Daniel Ricciardo all retired from the race within moments of each other. A camera on Alonso’s car showed us the message on his steering wheel. It said, “cool the car”.

It’s not like he could just take a left turn into an igloo. Instead, his race was over. He stopped in the pit lane entry. Ricciardo, meanwhile, stopped right before the pit lane entry.

This caused the pit lane to be closed and drivers like Hamilton couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity to pit while under a virtual safety car.

6. The “A” Names are Getting To Me

There are ten teams in Formula 1. Four of them start with the letter, “A”. Three of them start with, “Al”. Two of them begin with “Alfa” and “Alpha”. It’s making me lose my mind.

On top of this, their respective team colours are throwing me off.

Alpine used to be Renault, which was yellow and black. But now they have pink cars, which used to be the car of Racing Point, who is now Aston Martin.

There is too much to keep track of. It’s like each team picked one article of clothing from each other’s closet and called it an outfit. Stop the chaos!

I understand the importance of branding and all that, but woof, it’s a lot.

Alfa Romeo used to be the only one. And then Toro Rosso changed to AlphaTauri, which is a clothing brand (my outfit analogy makes even more sense now), and the barn doors just stayed open ever since. Nothing was sacred anymore.

No more “A” names, please. This is my limit. If Acura or Audi want to join Formula 1, they need to drop the first letter. That’s the rule, I don’t make the rules.

Cura and Udi, welcome to the grid.

7. Switcheroo for 1 and 2

We were promised closer racing and more passing this year. So far, that is what we have seen.

The cherry on top has been the battles between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen who, for two races in a row, have played a game of switcheroo on the track for the top two positions.

I’ll probably say this a lot this season, but we haven’t seen that a lot in recent years. It’s either the car in first place is way off in the distance, or they get passed and slowly fall back.

This back-and-forth drama hasn’t been in the script.

A few years ago, we had Lando Norris gaining positions on the last lap of races, which sparked the moniker, “Last Lap Lando.”

Now, we have Charles and Max playing switcheroo for 1 & 2. Yes, this phrase needs work and I may have already driven it into the ground, but “switcheroo” and “two” rhyme, so I am proud of myself.

The next race is April 10 in Australia.

What did you think of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?

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9 Responses to 7 Takeaways from the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

  1. Such a great recap Paul – I’m so happy there is a bit of competition this year so far and Mercedes isn’t a predictable win – it’s still early so who knows what they will do to the car to make it faster 🙄 Sunday mornings are once again race days 😂 here’s to an exciting season 🤞🏻that’s not predictable

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bill says:

    I found it interesting how it took Verstappen four or five tries (including Bahrain) to realize that Leclerc was setting him up by letting him pass right before the start of the DRS zone, so Leclerc could use DRS on him and not the other way around. That Max certainly is a quick study!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      It’s a nifty little trick. I do the same thing in the video game (down tell my opponents!). I’m curious to see what happens at the next race in Australia. They’ve made a lot changes to the track to encourage more passing, since it was notorious for being a single file/follow the leader race.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dutch Lion says:

    Verstappen!!! “You ain’t much if you ain’t Dutch”!

    Like

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