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  • Maxime Baillieux

Saudi Arabia GP

This article was written by Maxime Baillieux, Year 11


Q1

The initial qualifying session brought unexpected twists as Oliver Bearman replaced Sainz due to appendicitis. Hulkenberg took the lead on soft tires, while both Mercedes drivers opted for mediums. Alonso's surprising move saw him claim P1 with just 13 minutes remaining. Meanwhile, Hamilton struggled in 6th place with Russell in 7th. Bearman's impressive climb to P4 with just 9 minutes left drew attention, but it was Verstappen who ultimately secured P1. Notably, both Alpines faced disappointment, yet Bearman successfully advanced to Q2.


Q2

In the second qualifying session, Bearman stood out as the only driver on used tires. Russell displayed his pace, setting a purple sector 2 before a red flag disrupted proceedings due to Hulkenberg's setback. Despite initial challenges, Alonso impressed by clinching P2. Bearman faced difficulties, aborting his lap after a lock-up. Nevertheless, his commendable performance placed him just behind Hamilton in P10, almost edging out the seasoned driver from the top 10 shootout.


Q3

Tension mounted in the final qualifying session as Leclerc led the charge. After the first runs, it was Max, Perez, Alonso, Russell, and Piastri in the top spots. Leclerc's struggle with new tires was evident, yet he secured P4. Drivers strategically positioned themselves on the track, with Hamilton benefiting from Alonso to slipstream.


Pre-Race:

Before the race, all drivers, except Bearman and Zhou, opted for medium tires. The question remained: could Bearman secure points in the upcoming race?


Race:

The race began with the anticipation of a 50-lap journey and an estimated single-stop strategy, promising tactical manoeuvres and intense battles. Even before the cars lined up on the grid, Gasly faced early adversity with a gearbox issue. As the lights went out, Perez initially led into Turn 1, but Leclerc's tenacity through Turn 2 secured his position, pushing Perez to third place.


Gasly's race ended abruptly due to the technical glitch, while Bearman fought to maintain his position in 11th, showcasing his determination as he challenged Tsunoda on soft tires. The midfield battle intensified as Norris's jump start raised questions about potential penalties.


By lap 5, Tsunoda's attempts to overtake Stroll proved fruitless, allowing Bearman a chance to mount a comeback. However, Stroll's crash on lap 7 triggered a safety car deployment, prompting a flurry of pit stops. Bearman strategically changed tires to gain an advantage.


As the race resumed on lap 9, Norris led briefly, with Leclerc making progress. The midfield battle saw Bearman successfully overtake Tsunoda for 11th place. Investigations into Perez's release and penalties for Magnussen added complexity.


In the thick of the midfield skirmish, Bearman pulled off a slick manoeuvre to pass Tsunoda, surging into 11th place. However, the race dynamics grew more tangled with inquiries into Perez's release and Magnussen's penalties. Verstappen's dominant lead underscored his mastery, while Leclerc steadily gained on Norris.


By lap 27, Leclerc's bold move on Norris set off a heated scrap further down the field involving Yuki, Ocon, Albon, and Sargeant, with Ricciardo hot on their heels. Amidst the intense action, Bearman's consistent drive propelled him to 9th place, clinching crucial points for his team.


In the closing laps, Bearman faced pressure but held his position, finishing 7th. Verstappen secured victory, with Leclerc claiming the fastest lap, concluding an eventful race.


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