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5 things that made 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix worth watching

An exciting race despite Max Verstappen’s supremacy

The Jeddah Corniche circuit always provides some entertaining racing. SCREENSHOT FROM FORMULA 1

Did you wake up at an ungodly hour to watch the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix? If so, you may have been rewarded with a fairly entertaining race, assuming you ignored Max Verstappen’s (Red Bull) guaranteed first-place finish.

Did you even notice Pierre Gasly was gone? SCREENSHOT FROM SKY SPORTS F1

1. Alpine’s problems continue. The French team continues to struggle. Following the departure of key personnel, this weekend saw yet another dismal performance for the team.

Both cars failed to make it out of Q1 during the qualifying session, and to add insult to injury, Pierre Gasly had gearbox issues during the formation lap, which resulted in a first-lap retirement. His teammate, Esteban Ocon, finished in P13 but was a lap behind the race leader.

Kevin Magnussen's race was far from over with some unconventional tactics to keep his teammate in the points. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

2. Haas’s rather unconventional strategy. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) found himself to be popular in the race for all the wrong reasons.

First was a collision with Alexander Albon (Williams) on Lap 10, giving him a 10-second penalty. He then got another 10-second penalty on Lap 23 for leaving the track and gaining an advantage on Yuki Tsunoda (VCARB).

This essentially destroyed his race, but Haas managed to make lemonade out of the lemons they were handed. They essentially made Magnussen hold back the rest of the pack to allow Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) to earn their very first point and finish in P10.

It was a fairly entertaining and chaotic race for the midfield. SCREENSHOTS FROM FORMULA 1

3. All the other mid-race chaos. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) found himself in the wall on Lap 6, triggering a rather chaotic scramble to the pits. Everyone pitted on Lap 8, but Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-AMG), Lando Norris (McLaren), Hulkenberg, and Zhou Guanyu (Sauber) stayed out to get track position.

Meanwhile, Norris looked like he jumped the start, but the stewards took no action due to his transponder not saying so. He finished in P8, and teammate Oscar Piastri (McLaren) finished in P4 after a long-winded battle with Hamilton. A very strong weekend for the McLaren F1 team.

Finally, Tsunoda showed his team who was the faster driver of the two, even engaging in battle with Albon mid-race. On the other hand, Daniel Riccardo (VCARB) had a disappointing weekend and even spun out on the last lap.

Oliver Bearman stole a bit of Lewis Hamilton's thunder for many Ferrari 'firsts' to the dismay of the commentators. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

4. A great Formula 1 debut. While we had our fair share of rookies make their F1 starts on short notice (like Nyck De Vries and Liam Lawson), it’s not every day that it happens to a top team like Scuderia Ferrari.

With Carlos Sainz Jr. suddenly diagnosed with appendicitis on Friday, 18-year-old Oliver Bearman had some rather large shoes to fill as he familiarized himself with the SF-24.

A great first race on such a short notice. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

With a decent qualifying, the Briton was just 0.036 second short of making it to Q3.

Despite starting in P11, he had a very strong race, making some rather ballsy overtakes on Tsunoda, Guanyu, and Hulkenberg. Bearman managed to hold off a charging Norris and Hamilton, who both had fresh soft tires on their cars.

He ultimately finished P7 and won the Driver of the Day award. Meanwhile, his teammate, Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), finished in a comfortable P3 and nabbed the fastest lap.

Even Max Verstappen's celebration was ho-hum for this race. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

5. Red Bull soldiered on at the front, unchallenged. Yes, with this latest victory, Max Verstappen managed to claim his 100th career podium finish, becoming the seventh driver to reach that total.

He was uncontested, and even in those rare moments when Norris briefly led the race, he managed to cruise past him on the straight as his fresh tires finally warmed up.

Even a mess-up like this wasn't enough to ruin Checo's race. SCREENSHOT FROM FORMULA 1

During the sudden Lap 8 pit stop frenzy, Sergio Perez (Red Bull) got a five-second time penalty for an unsafe release on Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin), but that did nothing to impede Checo’s race pace and eventual P2 finish. This is the team’s second 1-2 finish of the season.

It’s easy to see who will win the constructor’s and the driver’s championships, but only time will tell if the cracks will show from the team’s internal turmoil.

The next race will be held in Australia on March 24 (12pm). A comfortable time for us Filipinos, so this is one race you’d want to watch.

Sam Surla

Sam is the youngest member of our editorial team. And he is our managing editor (believe it or not). He specializes in photography and videography, but he also happens to like writing about cars a lot.