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2021 F1 Race 21: Jeddah Corniche Circuit

The second of the desert triple header looked like it may have a track built for speed, but little overtaking, but drama was lurking just around the corner.

Formula 1 F1 race 21 2021 Jeddah Corniche Circuit Alfa Tauri

Initially, it was believed that Tilker's latest track design had been built too narrow and without enough real concentration on what racing fans wanted, overtaking. The Jeddah track isn't the only track designed by Tilker that has had this criticism levelled at with a seemingly formulaic approach to track design. Once the first few laps had passed beneath the F1 and F2 wheels it became apparent that whatever the circuit may lack in overtaking manoeuvres it would make up for in drama with the Singapore-esque walls meaning punishment was waiting for any driver hoping to push to the very limit.

The practice sessions focused the teams on qualifying pace with few wanting to get any high fuel long runs in the bag as everyone believed that qualifying alone may be the decider for the race. What did become clear was that despite the general belief being that the track would suit Mercedes, it was RedBull that was able to activate the tyres quicker, especially the hard tyre.

Moving on to qualifying and Charles Leclerc felt he had something to prove after damaging his Ferrari in free practice. Sainz clipping the edge of the wall with his spoiler hurt his pace and so the two Ferrari's finished a distance away from each other on the starting line up. All eyes were on the front row and although Mercedes were strong it looked as if Verstappen would take pole as he set a purple sector 1 and purple sector 2 before pushing just a bit too hard and making contact with the wall, essentially ending his qualifying and keeping him in P3 for the race.

On race day we were gifted with three starts, initially everyone managed to set off without too much trouble, but the drama really began when Schumacher crashed his Haas into a wall. This brought out a safety car and a rush into the pitman for a cheap stop, one that drivers and teams would soon regret when the red flag was brought out after it was decided that the repairs to the barrier would be needed. Verstappen hadn't stopped under the safety car and so now would not only be pole from the restart but get a fresh set of tyres fitted under red flag conditions.

On the restart an aggressive move from Max on Lewis didn't pay off as it was deemed the move was done off the track, Ocon was now holding the podium places, but another red flag soon waved as a closing gap brought Leclerc and Perez together, ending the Mexicans race and causing a severe blow to hopes RedBull may have had for a constructors trophy.

On the second restart, Verstappen had learnt exactly where to place the car for maximum advantage and slithered down the inside, taking the lead of the race. Ocon was then dispatched by Hamilton soon after and it was back down to a tussle for the championship at the front.

Curious events then took hold, Verstappen slowed down and braked in what appeared o be an attempt to hand back Hamilton first as his team deemed he should do before the stewards ordered it. In doing so the message wasn't clearly given to Hamilton, who instead of passing, slowed down himself, then attempted to make a move around Verstappen at much lower speed. The result was contact, although both cars were able to continue, albeit with Hamilton carrying a broken endplate of his wing. Verstappen had already been given a five second penalty by the point, a somewhat double punishment after he was also ordered to let Hamilton by him.

After this, the excitement was supplied by Valterri Bottas, who made a move on Esteban Ocon as they raced for the finish line. The Mercedes pushing ahead, clinching the final podium spot for the team.

The podium was a common sight, these three drivers having taken accolades in varying orders. Mercedes will feel slightly fortunate to have got two drivers up on the Jeddah steps, Verstappen may feel a little hard done by with penalties. We go on to the final race of the season with all square at the top of the drivers championship.

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