5 Drivers who need a good Saudi Arabian GP Today
Max or Lewis, Lewis or Max? On whom have you placed your bet?
The battle lines have been clearly drawn for the final two races and as we head to the end of the season. The Saudi Arabian GP has crawled on upon us like a massive volcano of opportunity for both Hamilton and Verstappen who’ll look to maximise their chances.
But guess what?
The win, as always, remains for just one of the two. One from a duo whose famous rivalry has scripted a new era of sorts in the turbo hybrid era of the sport.
That said, let’s look at five drivers who’ll be keen to deliver a particularly strong weekend.
1. Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel begins his penultimate Grand Prix of the season from seventeenth on the grid. It’s neither the best possible start for a driver of his caliber nor is it a particularly troubling slot from which to aim to rise into a formidable grid position in the end.
However, his P17 does indicate exactly a year that Aston Martin have had, slotting themselves in their maiden season neither too behind the rest of the lot whilst never fully capitalising on any race barring Baku’s triumphant podium finish.
A year, therefore, spent in forging vital steps in what shall hopefully be a good journey up ahead!
The last two races for Vettel, however, have yielded lukewarm results. At both Brazil as well as Qatar- Vettel went on to finish exactly where he began the races from – an eleventh at Brazil and a tenth at the latest F1 Grand Prix – at Qatar.
Therefore, what’ll come in handy for the great German driver would be to make most of what now remains of the season. So, what’ll the four-time world champion make of the 50 laps ahead of him?
2. Antonio Giovinazzi
For someone who not only outperformed someone like Kimi Raikkonen in the first half of the season, where he finished on considerably better grid positions (in qualifying) than the famous Finn, it’s no surprise that it’s Giovinazzi- not Kimi- who got a better hang of the Jeddah track this weekend.
Now what remains is to see whether the outgoing Alfa Romeo driver, who’s driving his final two races, much like Kimi, can salvage something special at the forthcoming race.
To make things better for him, Antonio Giovinazzi’s worked really hard to get to a P10, a position he’d quite like to see take him further up in the grid.
But can that Alfa Romeo hold up and give its long locked Jesus a blessed run this Jeddah?
It’s all to play for!
3. Max Verstappen
For most drivers, the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix is a massive opportunity to score on a track on which they’ve never previously raced before. For Verstappen of Red Bull though, it’s a make-or-break contest.
Few drivers have put in as much effort to stretch a contest to its final legs in a bid to win a title as has the Hasselt-born driver.
But then it’s one thing to soldier on in a race and something another to excel against someone like Lewis Hamilton.
As Verstappen begins his second last race of what has been a tremendous season, he’ll only have two things on his mind. First, how to contest in an error free Grand Prix and second, how to win the contest in order to maximise his chances come Abu Dhabi.
But in either situation, Verstappen will be tied to what’ll be an exceedingly big task that of denying glory to a proven legend of the track: Lewis Hamilton.
It’s exactly what makes this upcoming 50-lap run a one of its kind tussle and it’s precisely what can make this a miss and go opportunity for a driver who’s the face of Formula 1’s young generation, along with names like Leclerc and Norris.
4. Yuki Tsunoda
For someone whose last three Formula 1 Grands Prix have resulted in no points whatsoever, there’s no rocket science theory as to why the rookie Japanese driver needs a strong Saudi Arabia GP.
Having already proven his worth and caliber as a Formula 1 driver thanks to race finishes like his P6 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Tsunoda will look to find some old form.
In so doing, he’ll be keen to offer a final flourish to what has been a mixed bag of a season.
Jedda being a new track will, however, offer an interesting challenge to someone like Tsunoda for whom every Grand Prix is an exciting opportunity to forge a career. With age on his hands and a new contract under his belt, you’d
5. Lewis Hamilton
A great driver must belong in the driver’s seat. And that’s precisely where Sir Lewis Hamilton- fresh from massive wins at Brazil and Qatar- finds himself ahead of the soon-to-begin Jeddah race.
For someone who’s faced a relentless onslaught at the behest of Max Verstappen’s menacing form this season, the way Lewis Hamilton has fought back last few races to be in the thick of things is indeed remarkable.
Moreover, it exemplifies the very virtue Hamilton himself stands for- Still, I Rise: a belief that regardless how staunch the attack from the opponent, I’ll still try to rise to being my best.
This very philosophy and self-belief will be the facets Hamilton will fight with as he begins his and the sport’s maiden Grand Prix at Saudi Arabia from the very front of the grid.
In clinching a very memorable pole at Jeddah, the first by any driver at the latest venue and a 103rd of his career, Hamilton is now barely a few laps from what could be another world title or if not, a major upset. The kinds that only a Red Bull can attempt. But let’s see what happens ahead in what’s poised to be a titanic struggle until the very end.
Grid Talk Podcast
Want more content to react to the Saudi GP qualifying? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast, the Saudi Arabian GP Qualifying analysis. Louis Edwards hosted Tom Downey, Olivia Kairu and Jawad Yaqub in episode 157 of the show. Both audio and video versions of the podcast are available below:
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