Sunday's 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is affirmation that Formula One's rule changes have done plenty to improve the competition of the sport.
Round two of the new season, held at Jeddah Corniche Circuit, saw brilliant racing throughout and a climax that saw Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc trade places several times until Verstappen managed to pull in front in the closing seconds and finish first. Leclerc would cross the line half a second behind. Fellow Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz rounded out the top three, finishing eight seconds behind the winner after dealing with his own battles with Red Bull's Sergio Perez.
It was Perez who started on pole, and early on it looked like he would be the winner. But on lap 15, Perez stopped to changes tires and immediately after that, Williams' Nicolas Latifi crashed into the barriers, prompting the virtual safety car to be declared and causing Perez to lose the lead to Leclerc. Verstappen also managed to jump ahead of his teammate at this point.
2022 Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Perez would also lose a position to Sainz but would continue fighting from fourth. Another virtual safety car was then declared on lap 38 when McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Alpine's Fernando Alonso both came to a stop due to car troubles. When the safety car was finished on lap 41, Leclerc remained in the lead, with Verstappen close behind and then Sainz and Perez.
Further down was Mercedes-Benz AMG's George Russell, who drove impressively to finish fifth. Russell's teammate, Lewis Hamilton, never really recovered from his poor qualifying on Saturday due to the trial of a new car setup. He finished in 10th place on Sunday after starting at 15th on the grid.
Following the weekend's action, Leclerc continues to lead the 2022 Drivers' Championship thanks to a tally of 45 points. Sainz is second with 33 points and Verstappen has now moved into third with 25 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari leads with 78 points, versus the 38 of Mercedes and 37 of Red Bull. The next race on the calendar is the Australian Grand Prix on April 10.
Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen at the 2022 Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Below are the full results from the 2022 Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix:
1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
2) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari +0.549 seconds
3) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari +8.097 seconds
4) Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing +10.800 seconds
5) George Russell, Mercedes-Benz AMG +32.732 seconds
6) Esteban Ocon, Alpine +56.017 seconds
7) Lando Norris, McLaren +56.124 seconds
8) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri +62.946 seconds
9) Kevin Magnussen, Haas +64.308 seconds
10) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz AMG +73.948 seconds
11) Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo +82.215 seconds
12) Nico Hulkenberg (filling in for Sebastian Vettel), Aston Martin +91.742 seconds
13) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin +1 lap
14) Alexander Albon, Williams DNF
NC) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo DNF
NC) Fernando Alonso, Alpine DNF
NC) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren DNF
NC) Nicholas Latifi, Williams DNF
DNS) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
DNS) Mick Schumacher, Haas