F1 season will come down to bonkers last race after bonkers race in Saudi Arabia

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on December 5, 2021 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on December 5, 2021 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Image: Getty Images

You don’t need to know much about F1 racing, or racing in general, to know that a race that had to be started three different times, and had an incident that saw the race’s leader attempt to give the lead to his closest competitor only to have the whole thing end in a collision, to know that Sunday’s Saudi Arabia Grand Prix was about as goofy a race as one can have.


At the end of it all, Lewis Hamilton won his third consecutive race of the season, eighth overall, to pull into a tie in the season championship with Max Verstappen, who finished second for the third consecutive race as well. Both have 369.5 points for the season, and next week’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the last race of the season, will be a winner-take-all for the two. But how we got here is seemingly a tale told by an idiot.

The fun started in the 13th lap of the race, when it was stopped due to one of the barriers on the track needing repair. It allowed Verstappen to change his tires without needing to use a pit stop to do so, a huge advantage as Hamilton had already pitted once. The race restarted…for about seven seconds. Simultaneously there was an accident in the middle of the pack that would cause a shutdown of the race right after the restart, and at the top of the race, Verstappen went off the track to pass Hamilton, which is distinctly not allowed.

Verstappen was moved back to third for the second restart, but immediately overtook both Hamilton and Sebastien Ocon who restarted ahead of him.

We weren’t even close to done. Verstappen kept the lead for 20 more laps, but when Hamilton made his move on Lap 37 to pass him, Verstappen ran Hamilton off the track (not for the first time this season). Perhaps in a bid to avoid any penalty from racing officials, Verstappen was told by his team to let Hamilton by on the next lap. Except no one told Hamilton this, who didn’t know what to make of Verstappen slowing down. Hamilton was sure that Verstappen was “brake-testing” him, something drivers do to signal they think they’re being followed too closely by a chasing car or cause them to take evasive action.

Hamilton ran up on Verstappen, damaging his front wing, and Verstappen apparently thought the gesture was enough and sped off.


Thanks to his forcing Hamilton off the track before the collision, Verstappen was given a five-second penalty after the race, which essentially handed the checkered flag to Hamilton, who was within a second or two of Verstappen for the entirety of the race. Before that was ruled, Verstappen again let Hamilton by, but then immediately overtook him again.

With six laps to go, Verstappen seemingly let Hamilton by again, this time for good, either unaware of the five-second penalty that would await him after the race or to finally appease officials for all the shenanigans that had occurred. Verstappen was told by his team that he didn’t have to do that, only adding to the confusion.


Hamilton would go on to win, and now just needs to finish ahead of the Red Bull driver Sunday to claim his eighth World Championship, which would be a record, and tie Michael Schumacher for the most in a row, with five. Verstappen is seeking his first-ever world championship and Red Bull’s first in eight years. Mercedes mostly wrapped up the constructor’s championship as Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, Sergio Pérez, didn’t earn any points while the Mercedes combo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas sandwiched Verstappen on the podium.

You can’t ask much more than for the whole season to come down to one race, which is exactly what F1 fans will get next week.

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