The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was called by Formula 1 to bring order to the championship. The Circuit of Jeddah is a brand new venue that promised to be the place where everything would be put right, but in vain! Something went wrong and the roaring chaos between Hamilton and Verstappen plunged the Corniche Circuit of Jeddah into “yellow” madness. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also says Formula 1 is missing Charlie Whiting and gently hints that current race director Michael Masi cannot control the situation. Surely, how is it possible to control at all? How Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton drove Saudi Arabia F1 stewards mad.
The Jeddah circuit is not difficult, but quite difficult!
Ahead of race day, it was clear that the Red Sea port city in Saudi Arabia is a very tricky challenge. Psychologically and mentally, Arab nights are hot rather than hot. Jeddah’s quiet and bright circuit in daylight turns into the most difficult race track in the evening. Whether we got the first outline in Friday practice or not, Saturday’s qualifying sessions proved just how treacherous the track is in Jeddah.
As fast as narrow.
Jeddah may look like a Japanese Suzuka, but it’s not really. Saudi Arabian F1 track is sudden and unexpected: with an average speed of 300km / h in the treacherous corners, it’s easy to confuse where to turn.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen came to the Saudi Grand Prix as two leaders despite the Red Bull driver’s eight-point lead. If Hamilton’s strong feature is the racing experience, then the opposite Verstappen is always “attack on the limit.”. Such feature played a cruel joke with Max.
Verstappen was faster than the speed of sound, leading and overtaking the best possible time before finishing the third Saudi Arabian qualifying before hitting the wall on the final lap… It seemed that there are only a few seconds between the coveted pole position, but in vain. What a daredevil! – cried Saudi Arabia F1 stewards. But who can stop Mad Max? Verstappen finished third in qualifying and nobody knows how he could avoid the gearbox damage. In case of damage, the Red Bull driver had to change and lost his starting position. Fortunately for Adrian Newey, who seemed to cry at the end, the gearbox was fine.
Saudi Arabia track was designed by Carsten Tilke. Apart from the fact that it is narrow, and this is the most important thing here, the traffic on a narrow path between two walls creates not only the danger, but also the psychological tension of the drivers. They understand very well that every mistake can be worth everything.
Another call for prudence came on the eve of the Saudi Grand Prix on Sunday. Formula 2 drivers Theo Pourchaire and Enzo Fittipaldi involved in the most serious crash. Pourchaire appeared to stall from third on the grid, then his stationary car was hit by Fittipaldi. The track in Jeddah urged Hamilton and Verstappen to exercise caution and made Saudi Arabia F1 stewards nervous before the start. But who can control these two when it comes to the F1 Drivers Championship?
Hamilton and Verstappen at the F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix
Max Verstappen accepted defeat in Saturday’s qualifying session very calm. Equally calmly, he did not going to give up, no matter what it may cost him. The track configuration played into Mercedes hands, as it was clearly better suited for Lewis Hamilton. Better start, better speed, better pit stop time, Lewis Hamilton seemed to have won already this weekend, but Jeddah is very tricky! Despite the hard braking of Valtteri Bottas, which cost Verstappen time to come out of the pits, the following red flag allows both Red Bull drivers to change tires without losing time. Mick Schumacher crashes his car, red flags stop the race. Lewis Hamilton is on fire, but there is no time for sentiment.
So there started a fight, a real fight – a conflict of interest between two different drivers from two different teams. Mercedes and Red Bull, Hamilton and Verstappen, the higher tension touched down each of the two teams and all of the Saudi Arabia F1 stewards. The restart on lap 15 showed once again that Mercedes is faster, but Max Verstappen is Max Verstappen, he never gives up.
Bet the FIA team has their heads in their hands, who already care that this is a tough track with an average speed of 300 km / h! At this moment, nobody knows what these two can manage. How to judge when the drivers fly through narrow lines and Max Verstappen cuts the Turn 2 to lead? Tension reached its peak, Sergio Perez lost the car, Charles Leclerc got the blow from Perez. At that moment the drivers came like a massively tense lava, led by Verstappen, Hamilton and Esteban Ocon, which no one can stop.
FIA F1 race director Michael Masi, Hamilton and Verstappen.
Michael Masi decided to take control and stopped the race again with red flags due to lot car parts from Perez, Leclerc, Mazepin, Russell. Formula 1 race director had to decide very quickly, every second the overall picture changed. Furthermore, all the radio messages were streamed to the whole world. Masi suggested Red Bull to return the position, skipping Ocon. Calm Michael also had confusion as to who was where! Red Bull agreed to omit Ocon, but not Hamilton. Michael repeated the suggestion and asked Red Bull to skip two cars. What madness! Otherwise the Red Bull driver will be punished after the race.
Michael Masi clearly understood this fight is more heated than hot and the race director politely explained everything. Somebody thought it was like bargaining or even more politics, but also the management does not want to put themselves between two fires, especially when it comes to the case Mercedes VS Red Bull. Second restart Max Verstappen started third, but who can stop Red Bull?
Verstappen led the grid, the next five laps 18-23 were the quietest of the entire 50. Vettel and Tsunoda collided on lap 23. Fernando Alonso poured fuel on the fire, saying there were many car parts on the track in Jeddah and criticizing that Race Director had left the safety car only in virtual mode. Michael Masi had hesitated with the safety car and red flags. It seemed that we had enough yellow mode. Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel collided next.
Hamilton and Verstappen’s epic moment at F1 Saudi GP
In this chaotic situation, it was better to stop the race and clear the track, but the whole world watched the fight of two main heroes Hamilton and Verstappen. It was risky, very risky to maintain virtual safety mode lap after lap.
Hamilton eventually overtook Verstappen in the battle for the lead. Bet that Saudi Arabia F1 stewards were already ready for another collision, stared at the stream with closing eyes. That was for a reason, because Max again pushed Hamilton off the track and retained the lead. Michael Masi again called on Red Bull to return the position, otherwise that would be the penalty. Red Bull team is not ready to give the lead.
Mercedes focused on the two drivers, had no idea that Red Bull was ready to give position Hamilton. Leader Max Verstappen made a hard brake to Lewis overtake, but Hamilton could not understand this gesture and collided with Verstappen. Mercedes asked Masi why Verstappen did not pass the position. Michael still trying to have all his patience, assured that Verstappen was already done and impossible to making repeat every message to each team.
Once again, race stewards called on Verstappen to return the position to Hamilton. Max played with the rules, skipping Hamilton on lap 42 and immediately overtaking again. Race stewards had had enough of waiting – and gave Max the traditional five-second penalty. Verstappen skipped Hamilton on lap 43. Lewis immediately took off like a full rocket.
FIA to MaFIA in Jeddah
The Formula One race director Michael Masi made decisions with the Saudi Arabia F1 stewards and yes, you can say the drivers drove him crazy and made this Arabian night a nightmare. However, everyone was surprised at how frivolous the drivers were. F1 fans identified the FIA in the mafia for constant negotiations, persuasion, because after the Saudi Grand Prix there are still more questions than answers.
Why was there a red flags after an accidents in the first half of the race, but not after collisions in the second part? Why did the safety car appeared when everything was clean but not when there was a real danger?Would Max Verstappen have had a dangerous braking had he known he would be disqualified? And what about Valtteri Bottas? There are dozens of questions!
What is the point of that?
It seems that Michael Masi and the stewards team inadvertently became the stumbling block between Red Bull and Mercedes, and the stewards themselves will probably need a long holiday after all the chaos. Michael Masi’s problem is that he is a soft and politically correct person. He is cautious and somewhere he does not want to interfere in the beautiful Formula 1 story that is going on before our eyes.
So it probably seemed a bit elongated compared to normal, however it is very much a normal discussion that takes place. When I saw it happen at Turn 2, I immediately suggested to the stewards that I am going to give the opportunity [to Red Bull] to give that place back.Michael Masi to F1 official
After the race, the Saudi Arabia F1 stewards punished Verstappen with ten seconds and two penalty points. At the same time, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner remembers about Charlie Whiting. However, in Red Bull they seem to have forgotten a little bit that Charlie would not ask or offer.
The Hamilton and Verstappen have done their jobs like crazy and Masi had to think immediately about the safety of everyone. But the most important thing is that there will be endless disputes. After all, that’s why we love Formula One racing – because it creates new and new arguments.