Max Verstappen won his race with a new quality. He showed patience and attacked at the right moment. Nevertheless, Charles Leclerc cut the better figure overall. A yellow flag could have cost him the win.
It rarely happens that the second place gets a better grade than the winner. Especially when the two candidates have almost delivered the perfect weekend. Overall, Charles Leclerc's was a bit better. In qualifying he got the maximum out of his Ferrari. Nobody could beat Sergio Perez's best time. Max Verstappen messed up qualifying because he tried something new in tire preparation that didn't work out as hoped.
In the race, both benefited from the bad luck of the fastest in training. Sergio Perez changed tires at race pace, his opponents in a safety car phase. Leclerc inherited the lead from Verstappen, who followed the Ferrari like a shadow but never really got within striking distance. Only a VSC phase did Verstappen open the door. He warmed up his hard tires earlier.
Duel in four acts
Then Leclerc and Verstappen repeated their show from Bahrain. This time in four acts. The first two rounds went to the championship leader. He tricked Verstappen with chess moves that the Dutchman is actually more likely to do. But Max was careful. On the third try he unpacked a feint. Two laps later, Leclerc counterattacked. He was already hanging behind the Red Bull at the finish line with his rear wing open when a yellow flag slowed him down in the first corner. The bottom line is that we give Leclerc a 10 and Verstappen a 9.
Two other drivers have earned the grade 9. Sergio Perez for the lap of his life in Q3 and for perhaps having the safety car steal a win from him. And George Russell for getting the best possible result in the stubborn Mercedes and beating the great Lewis Hamilton.
Driver grades GP Saudi Arabia
Here are the F1 driver grades for the Jeddah Grand Prix in a short overview. As always, you can find the detailed individual reviews of the 20 pilots in the gallery: