WINNERS 

Lewis Hamilton 

Amid all the chaos of an extraordinary first-ever race in Saudi Arabia, Lewis Hamilton kept his cool to prevail to a crucial victory. 

It is a result that has set up a winner-takes-all title showdown with Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi next weekend for a thrilling title climax fitting of one of the greatest F1 seasons of all time. 

Hamilton had a lot thrown at him in the race - including several on-track clashes with Verstappen that led to him picking up front wing damage - but he still came out on top to draw level with his title rival in the championship. 

Hamilton is delivering his best performances of the season when it matters most and a hat-trick of victories ensures that his bid to win a historic eight world title remains in his own hands. 

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Mercedes 

While Mercedes would have been frustrated that red flag interruptions opened the door for Verstappen to eventually split Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas on the podium, it ultimately will be delighted with the result in Jeddah. 

A 1-3 finish, coupled with a DNF for Sergio Perez, puts Mercedes in the driving seat to win an unprecedented eighth consecutive constructors’ world championship and maintain its unbeaten record in the V6 hybrid era. 

Mercedes now holds a 28-point lead over Red Bull with a maximum score of 44 points available in the Abu Dhabi finale, meaning it would take a remarkable turnaround for Red Bull to prevent the German marque from taking yet another F1 crown. 

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Esteban Ocon 

He may have been left distraught to have been pipped to a podium on the run to the line by Bottas, but Esteban Ocon can leave Saudi Arabia very pleased with his efforts. 

Ocon benefitted from Alpine’s decision not to pit ahead of the first red flag, which meant he was elevated to first for the second standing restart following a clash between Hamilton and Verstappen. 

The Frenchman quickly fell behind the squabbling championship contenders but held third for the majority of the race, only to see Bottas breeze past in a heartbreaking conclusion for Ocon. 

Nevertheless, his 12-point haul ensures Alpine holds a seemingly unbeatable buffer over AlphaTauri going into the last race amid the battle for fifth place in the constructors’ championship. 

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Daniel Ricciardo 

Daniel Ricciardo was another beneficiary of not pitting under the first safety car when early chaos ensued. 

The Australian overcame the disappointment of his Q2 qualifying elimination to rise from 11th on the grid and find himself at one stage scrapping for the final spot on the podium, before slipping to fifth at the flag. 

Ricciardo kept Bottas behind for a lengthy spell but in the end was powerless to stop the faster Mercedes getting by as he scored a strong top-five finish.

It helped McLaren outscore Ferrari - albeit only by a single point that won’t be enough to stop its rival from securing third place in the constructors’ championship in Abu Dhabi.  

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Antonio Giovinazzi 

Antonio Giovinazzi may be on his way out of F1, but he is determined to end his tenure on a high after picking up points for just the second time this season with his best result of the year in ninth. 

Overshadowed by a chaotic race and the drama at the front, Giovinazzi executed his race perfectly to convert his Q3 appearance into P9. The Italian did run as high as seventh at one stage, though keeping the faster Ferraris behind was never a realistic outcome. 

A superb around-the-outside overtake on Fernando Alonso at Turn 1 capped off what was undoubtedly Giovinazzi’s best performance of 2021. Unfortunately for him, it has come too late to save his seat on the F1 grid. 

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LOSERS 

Max Verstappen and Red Bull

A second-place finish for Verstappen may be a good-enough result on paper to keep his prospects of winning a maiden F1 world title on track, but the Red Bull driver possibly has reason to feel more negative than positive coming away from Jeddah. 

Verstappen lost a certain pole position with a costly error at the final corner on his final Q3 effort, which will surely be remembered as one of the greatest laps never completed in F1. 

That would have put Verstappen at the front and maybe given him the chance to control the race, although Mercedes arguably had the faster car anyway and it may well have had no impact on the end result. 

Indeed, Verstappen started on pole at the first restart following an early red flag, but eventually had to settle for second behind Hamilton following a number of on-track clashes as the title tight turned ugly. 

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Verstappen’s aggressive, never-give-in approach was criticised as being “over the limit” by Hamilton, and it certainly didn’t go down with sections of the crowd who booed him in parc ferme. 

Verstappen picked up two time penalties that ultimately had no bearing on his P2 finish as Red Bull felt it was unfairly treated in Saudi Arabia. It has now fallen 28-points behind Mercedes with Perez dropping out after a tangle with Charles Leclerc

Verstappen does go into the world championship decider in control of his own destiny, but Mercedes and Hamilton who have clear momentum on their side. 

Lando Norris 

Among the biggest losers of the red flag suspension was Lando Norris. The McLaren driver, unlike his teammate, decided to pit but lost more than the drivers ahead who also stopped. 

Norris dropped as low as 14th before the red flag was flown, which enabled the field to have a free change of tyres and effectively ruined his race. 

The Briton slammed the red flag tyre change rule as “stupid” and “unfair” after he had to fight his way back to take a solitary point in 10th. A clearly aggrieved Norris knew a better result should have been on the cards. 

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Yuki Tsunoda 

A race filled with so much promise ended in huge disappointment for Yuki Tsunoda. 

Having turned in a strong qualifying performance to secure eighth on the grid, Tsunoda blew his chances of potentially landing his best result in F1 with an erratic, clumsy move on Sebastian Vettel

Tsunoda picked up a time penalty for punting Vettel into the wall and also lost his front wing, ruining his grand prix and consigning him to a lowly finish outside of the points. 

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Jeddah’s new circuit 

It may have led to an entertaining race, but Jeddah’s new Corniche Circuit came under fire from fans and several drivers for being unsafe. 

Despite hefty crashes for Carlos Sainz, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, F1 escaped the weekend without any injuries but that did not stop the drivers from highlighting their concerns. 

Perez described the track as “dangerous for no reason” and admitted to fearing a “big shunt” due to the high-speed but tight nature of the circuit. 

At times it felt as though F1 was pushing its luck following a number of close calls across the weekend. 

Jeddah’s safety is set to be a topic of discussion for the drivers and the FIA ahead of likely revisions to the track before F1 returns next March.

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Toto’s headphones 

Spare a thought for Toto Wolff’s poor headphones which took a battering during the Mercedes boss’s enraged response to witnessing that collision between Hamilton and Verstappen on lap 37. 

Wolff has provided F1 with many amusing GIF-worthy reactions over the years but this one surely took things to a new level with an explosion that resembled something akin to a Super Saiyan transformation.