Starting from pole Car 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2021 for his 103rd Fi win. The race had 2 red flags & penalties leaving the 2 leading drivers tied going into Abu Dhabi to decide the championship. 2nd Place Car 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda received a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage and a further 10-second penalty for causing a collision. 3rd Place Car 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes.
4th Place Car 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault followed by 5th place Car 3 Daniel Ricciardo Mclaren Mercedes. 6th Place Car 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda followed by 7th place Car 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari. 8th Place Car 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari followed by 9th place Car 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari. Lastly in the Top 10 was Car 4 Lando Norris Mclaren Mercedes. Canadian Car 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes finished in 11th place. Canadian Car 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes finished in 12th place.
F1 – 2021 SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX – SUNDAY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
1 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing)
3 – Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
(Conducted by David Coulthard)
Q: Max, well, I don’t know where to start. That was an incredible grand prix and in the end second place. Give us your thoughts on this race?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, it was quite eventful. A lot of things happened that I don’t fully agree with but it is what it is. At least I tried it on track, to give it all. I’m not sure that the tyres were lasting to the end. I think it was good for the beginning of that end of the… the last stint basically, but yeah I was just lacking a bit of rubber towards the end. But nevertheless, still second.
Q: We have to talk through, ultimately, where you lost this grand prix. The instruction came from your team to slow down. Clearly there was a miscommunication or a misunderstanding with Lewis on track and then there was contact. Talk us through your point of view on that incident?
Max Verstappen: I slowed down. I wanted to let him by. So I’m on the right but he didn’t want to overtake and then we touched so, yeah, I don’t really understand what happened there.
Q: As to the championship standings, it’s all square going into Abu Dhabi.
Max Verstappen: Yeah, it all will be decided there. Hopefully, of course, we will have a good weekend, but let’s see.
Q: Valtteri, your 67th and pretty hard-fought and late-coming podium.
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah, it was not an easy day. There were many obstacles and obviously with the red flags and everything made it a bit tricky and with the first red flag being on the hard tyre that was a mistake I think. Some of the guys with the medium tyre got me but then I got the medium after and it was OK. I just kept pushing. It wasn’t easy to overtake today but finally on the last straight I got third.
Q: You have definitely got a healthy glow about your face, which suggests you were fighting hard all the way. Put us in the cockpit, how was this first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?
Valtteri Bottas: It’s a nice track. It’s a big challenge physically and mentally. Yeah, a good grand prix and I look forward to coming here next year.
Q: Lewis, your 103rd grand prix win and I think your hardest-fought victory in Formula 1.
Lewis Hamilton: I don’t know, I’ve been racing here a long time, but that was definitely incredibly tough. I tried to be as sensible and as tough as I could be out there, but also sensible, and with all my race experience over the years and just keeping the car on track and staying clean. It was difficult but we persevered as a team. We have had all sorts of things thrown at us, particularly in this second half of the season, so I’m just proud of everyone. And also, I am really grateful for the crowd we have had this weekend. It has been nice to be here.
Q: Lewis, there were so many incidents during that grand prix, so many restarts, but the one we have to talk about is the contact with Max. Tell us about it from your point of view?
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, I didn’t quite understand why all of a sudden he hit the brakes quite heavily and then I ran into the back of him. And then he moved on, so I didn’t understand exactly what was going on, but then I got a message that he was going to let us pass, so it was a bit confusing.
Q: We’re all square going into Abu Dhabi. This championship can go either way.
Lewis Hamilton: Well, they have got some raw pace. They have been so quick and it was very hard to overtake them here. We have done an amazing job with what we have. Valtteri did a great job today to get the team points as well, so it’s great points for the team. This is for all the guys and girls back at the factory.
Q: The emotions were running very high with the team during the race. You seemed a lot calmer in the cockpit. Some closing thoughts on this victory and this first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?
Lewis Hamilton: Well, it’s been an amazing event. As I said, I have felt very welcome here. The people have been lovely and the track is phenomenal to drive. Very difficult, physically and mentally, but we wouldn’t want it any other way, so onto the next one.
Q: Max, if we can come to you first, what a wild race. Can you just sum it up from your point of view, please?
Max Verstappen: Confusing! Third, then starting first, dropped to third, third to first, five-second penalty, second, finished second, touches… yeah, I don’t know, I mean, I don’t agree with all the decisions, but I also don’t want to talk about it too much, because I don’t think we need to talk about it, they don’t deserve any mentions.
Q: You are going to the stewards to discuss the incident on lap 37 at Turn 1…
Max Verstappen: At Turn 1?
Q: And the incident after that of course, when you and Lewis made contact…
Max Verstappen: OK.
Q: Can I ask you about that run to Turn 1. What is your take on what happened there?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, so of course he had the run, a bit like Brazil, and of course I braked late and I think I got a little bit off line at one point I guess and I had a moment, so I went wide, but he also didn’t make the corner so we both basically missed the corner and I don’t think it’s fair to then just say that I get a penalty but, yeah, it is what it is.
Q: What happened after that? Just in terms of the communication with the pit wall?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, so then at one point they told me I had to give the position back. That was I think just before 22. So after 22-23, I went to drive to the right side and I slowed down and I was braking and downshifting and he just stayed super close behind me and I don’t really understand why. I was just trying to let him by. I’m just going slower and slower, pulling the downshift. We had a… oh I don’t know, a miscommunication or whatever and he ran into the back of me and that was it.
Q: Was there much damage to your car?
Max Verstappen: I haven’t checked my car. When I jumped out.
Q: How did it feel?
Max Verstappen: It felt alright – but I think also, well, I was on the Medium tyres and I think just the last few laps the Hard tyres may be a little bit better.
Q: I was going to ask you about that decision to go on the Medium tyre. It got you into the lead of the race at the start, didn’t it, but then do you think you would have been able to hold on, had there not been all the incidents? If you’d been leading with Lewis second, do you think you had the pace?
Max Verstappen: It was a virtual safety car, so you don’t really lose time, you know, I think it was actually alright, yeah. It was just difficult. They were very quick, and, you know, especially when you have good pace, and then around here when you’re all the time in the tow, the clipping becomes a bit less and you can stay in the DRS, you get more energy, so it’s quite efficient.
Q: Final one from me Max. You’re level on points going into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi – a race that you dominated last year. How confident are you?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, let’s see. It’s very important to have a good Saturday, the car is working well, get the long runs in, and then we’ll see what happens – but of course it’s exciting. Basically, we start again like we started the season.
Q: Valtteri, coming to you now, well done, a great race by you as well. First up, that was very tight with Esteban Ocon at the end. How satisfying was it to pip him right on the line.
Valtteri Bottas: Thank you. I mean, definitely it was an exciting finish, and it was really close, obviously. It was, to be honest. It was harder to get by him today than I thought it would be. He actually was driving really well and they were quite fast, and also before that I was stuck behind Daniel for a long time, which made me consume my tyres quite a lot, so actually my front-right tyre was pretty finished, so that made it even more tricky but yeah, once I dropped to fifth on the first restart, I knew that it was going to be all about being patient and eventually getting there, whatever is going to be possible. It was a bit closer than I thought, but made it.
Q: What about that battle with Daniel Ricciardo? Felt like history repeating itself again after Mexico?
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah. We obviously didn’t collide this time, so that’s a bonus. It was good racing. It was a tough race today, you know, pretty intense, like the qualifying yesterday, so… but yeah, I enjoyed it.
Q: And you’re now 18 points clear of Sergio Pérez in the Drivers’ Championship [sic. Bottas is 28 points ahead of Pérez]. Happy with that amount of daylight with just one race to go?
Valtteri Bottas: Is it more? Did I secure third? I think I secured third place. But I don’t know. Anyways, it was a good day as a team, for the Constructors’, and obviously for Lewis and it’s going to be exciting for them to be battling in Abu Dhabi, and obviously I tried to do my part, but… yeah.
Q: (Mark Mann-Bryans – PA) It’s a question for Max. Going to one of those incidents you had with Lewis during the race, he came over the radio and called you “f***ing crazy” and said you were brake testing him. How do you respond to that?
Max Verstappen: Not really. Like I said, emotions were running high at the time, so it is what it is.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Question to Max please. Max, you pulled off a brilliant overtake against Lewis and Ocon at one of the restarts but twice you were off, cutting Turn 2, ordered to give the positions back. Do you think some of your moves were over the line today – or were they within the racing rules the FIA outlined after Brazil? Thank you.
Max Verstappen: I don’t agree with the decisions but, like I said before, I also don’t want to waste too much time on it because we don’t need to make headlines out of it. They don’t deserve that.
Q: (Laurence Edmondson – ESPN) Another question for Max. After the race you said that Formula 1 is more about penalties than racing. What exactly did you mean by that – and are you now concerned, in some way, that this title might be decided by penalties rather than racing?
Max Verstappen: Oh, it’s not only this race, but in general lately, the trend in F1. Yeah, that’s not how I grew up watching Formula 1 but I mean, again, like I said also after the race, it is what it is and we just have to deal with it and move on.
Q: Lewis Hamilton, win number 103. Many congratulations Lewis. That was a wild race. Can you just start by summing it all up from your point of view please?
Lewis Hamilton: It was amazing. It was an incredibly difficult race. What a great circuit we have here. It’s very difficult to follow through Six, Seven, Eight, Nine. To then be close to be in the DRS area, through the next DRS areas, and then Turn 22 is pretty hectic but such a thrill to drive. I like to think we approached…. We approached it with a cool head today, as a team, and I think the key for us was just staying calm. It was clear that others around us were willing to take it to all sorts of levels in order to overtake, so I just tried to keep it on the track and stay out of trouble, which meant avoiding incidents if I could, and I’m really, really grateful that I still had a wing at the end. And then I just took a lot of risk at the end with the bit of damage that I had to get that extra point, as we continue to fight, no matter what we’ve experienced as a team, and I think probably all of us, no matter what we face, we just keep pushing, never give up, and I think that’s been the mentality of our team. I think today I’ve seen a passion and excitement within my team that, I think, in 10 years I don’t think I’ve seen that, which is amazing.
Q: And Lewis, the incident on lap 37, going into Turn 1 where Max was given a five-second penalty, can we just get your reflections on what happened there?
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah. I was just reminiscing about 2008 in Spa, in my first championship winning year, when I was fighting Kimi into the last corner of the Spa chicane and he ran me wide and I went across the chicane and I had to let him back past but then I overtook him straight away and I remember Charlie Whiting telling the team that it was OK and then finishing the race – Kimi obviously didn’t finish the race – but then getting a, I think it was a 10-second or whatever it was, 20s (cross talk) yeah, OK, yeah, and then finishing third. At this point of the… obviously I knew that Max had overtaken two of us by going over Turn 2 which at the beginning of the race we were told that that wasn’t allowed, but I hadn’t yet had the information yet that he would be backing off, so all of a sudden he started slowing down into 27 where the DRS zone is but it wasn’t quite clear to me, it was a bit confusing and then all of a sudden, he slowed down at a real… at a rapid pace and that’s when I had to avoid going completely up the backside of him. Yeah, I felt grateful that I obviously didn’t take us both out. For me, I need to be finishing both races and get all these points and it’s obviously tough to do so in these circumstances, but yeah, I managed to keep the car in one piece.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) To both Lewis and Max: earlier this season, you were avoiding any collisions and you both insisted you could race hard but fair. That’s changed and there have now been several flashpoints. Is this inevitable with such an intense battle or do you believe that something’s changed in how you’re racing that’s caused it?
Lewis Hamilton: I don’t think I’ve changed the way that I race. I think we’re seeing multiple incidents this year where even with Brazil we’re supposed to do our racing on track in between the white lines and the rules haven’t been clear from the stewards, that those things have been allowed, so that’s continued. From my understanding, I know that I can’t overtake someone and go off track and then keep the position but I think that’s well known between all us drivers but it doesn’t apply to one of us, I guess.
Max Verstappen: Well, I find it interesting that I am the one who gets the penalty when both of us ran outside of the white lines. In Brazil it was fine and now suddenly I get a penalty for it. Well, you could clearly see both didn’t make the corner, but it’s fine. I mean I also don’t really spend too much time on it. We have to move forward. We’re equal on points on now and I think that’s really exciting, of course, for the whole championship and Formula 1 in general but I said it earlier on my in-lap, I think lately we’re talking more about white lines and penalties than actually proper Formula 1 racing and that’s, I think, a little bit of a shame.
Q: (Michael Milewski – Bild) Lewis, when we had our interview on Thursday, you said that this was not the most intense or the hardest championship fight you’ve had in your career in F1. Did that change today?
Lewis Hamilton: It’s definitely an incredibly intense year and time. I think I was just saying because I’ve raced for 28 years. I’ve had so many intense battles through karting, through single-seaters and this is one of them. Of course this is the pinnacle of the sport so everything’s heightened, everything’s at the absolute max and so much weighs on it, so yeah, but I think it’s great for the sport. I think it’s great for the fans. I think they’re enjoying it more than ever. I’m enjoying it as a racing driver. Yup.
Q: (Mark Mann-Bryans – PA) Lewis, during the race, after one of the incidents, you came over the radio and called Max a ‘f***ing crazy guy’ and that you were being brake tested by him. Do you feel that he drove dangerously and were you at any point worried that you might be put out of the race and lose the championship, the chance to take the title fight to Abu Dhabi?
Lewis Hamilton: I definitely feel that there were scenarios where that was the case. This is not the first time that I’ve had to avoid a collision and yeah, that’s how I felt at the moment, but you know sometimes you say things in the heat of the moment and you go back and rewatch things and then you maybe feel differently but in the moment that’s how it felt. But I really just tried to recompose myself and chase down and keep fighting.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Lewis, when you ran into the back of Max when he slowed down, why did you not just go past him if he was slowing in front of you?
Lewis Hamilton: It really wasn’t clear. So, there are two scenarios. There’s one that it wasn’t clear, two I didn’t get the information, and then it became apparent that he was trying to let me past, which was what he, I guess, had been asked to do but before the DRS zone. So then it would have meant he would just DRS back past me coming through the last corner, followed me and then DRS-ed me into turn one. So that was the tactic, but I think that really the worst part was the steep, heavy braking that then happened at one point, which then I had to really… that’s where we collided. That was the dangerous part.
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2021 Race Results:
2021 Decemtber 5 2021 Saudi Arabi Prix 2021 Circuit: Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Jeddah, 1st Grand Prix 2021, Number of laps 50, Circuit Length 6.174 km Race Distance: 308.45 Lap Record 1:30.734 Lewis Hamilton (2021)
Position Car Driver Team Laps Status
|1. Car 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 50 2:06:15.118 – Running|
|2. Car 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 50 – Running|
|3. Car 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 50 – Running|
|4. Car 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 50 – Running|
|5. Car 3 Daniel Ricciardo Mclaren Mercedes 50 – Running|
|6. Car 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda 50 – Running|
|7. Car 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 50 – Running|
|8. Car 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 50 – Running|
|9. Car 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 50 – Running|
|10. Car 4 Lando Norris Mclaren Mercedes 50 – Running|
|11. Car 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 50 – Running – Canadian|
|12. Car 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 50 – Running – Canadian|
|13. Car 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault 49 – Running|
|14. Car 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda 49 – Running|
|15. Car 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 49 – Running|
|NC. Car 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes 44 – DNF|
|NC. Car 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda 14 – DNF|
|NC. Car 9 Nikita Mazepin HAAS Ferrari 14 – DNF|
|NC. Car 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 14 – DNF|
|NC. Car 47 Mick Schumacher HAAS Ferrari 8 – DNF|
2021 Driver Standings
POSITION DRIVER NATIONALITY CAR PTS
|1. Max Verstappen NED Red Bull Racing Honda 369.5|
|2. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes 369.5|
|3. Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes 218|
|4. Sergio Perez MEX Red Bull Racing Honda 190|
|5. Charles Leclerc MON Ferrari 158|
|6. Lando Norris GBR Mclaren Mercedes 154|
|7. Carlos Sainz ESP Ferrari 149.5|
|8. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Mclaren Mercedes 115|
|9. Pierre Gasly FRA AlphaTauri Honda 100|
|10. Fernando Alonso ESP Alpine Renault 77|
|11. Esteban Ocon FRA Alpine Renault 72|
|12. Sebastian Vettel GER Aston Martin Mercedes 43|
|13. Lance Stroll CAN Aston Martin Mercedes 34|
|14. Yuki Tsunoda JPN AlphaTauri Honda 20|
|15. George Russell GBR Williams Mercedes 16|
|16. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 10|
|17. Nicholas Latifi CAN Williams Mercedes 7|
|18. Antonio Giovinazzi ITA Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 3|
|19. Mick Schumacher GER HAAS Ferrari 0|
|20. Robert Kubica POL Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 0|
|21. Nikita Mazepin RAF HAAS Ferrari 0|
2021 Constructor Standings
POSITION TEAM PTS
|1. Mercedes 587.5|
|2. Red Bull Racing Honda 559.5|
|3. Ferrari 307.5|
|4. Mclaren Mercedes 269|
|5. Alpine Renault 149|
|6. AlphaTauri Honda 120|
|7. Aston Martin Mercedes 77|
|8. Williams Mercedes 23|
|9. Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 13|
|10. HAAS Ferrari 0|
Next Event: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021 December 12, 2021