Winners 

Max Verstappen 

After his disappointing DNF in Bahrain, Max Verstappen finally kick-started his 2022 season and title defence in Saudi Arabia, despite a below-par qualifying by his high standards. 

Verstappen immediately snatched third with a brilliant lunge on Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari into Turn 1, a move that brought him into contention for a possible victory. 

The reigning world champion profited from his teammate’s misfortune during the first Safety Car period to earn promotion into second, before he engaged in a race-long battle for victory with Charles Leclerc

Some “smart tricks” in the DRS overtaking zones ultimately proved key to Verstappen overhauling Leclerc as he passed the Ferrari driver with four laps to go following an intense duel. 

It was a much-needed result for Verstappen and one that sees him cut the deficit to early championship leader Leclerc to 20 points amid what is already shaping up to be a thrilling title fight. 

George Russell 

It was George Russell’s turn to lead Mercedes’ charge in Jeddah as he outperformed teammate Lewis Hamilton for the first time and turned in a very mature drive. 

Russell had a comfortable buffer to Hamilton in qualifying as he secured sixth on the grid as the only Mercedes-powered car to feature inside the top 10. 

The young Brit’s form continued into what was a lonely race on his way to finishing a distant fifth, which was ultimately the best result Mercedes could have achieved on merit. 

Russell has now moved ahead of Hamilton in the championship, providing him with an early confidence boost. Will he be able to build on a strong performance and stay on top when F1 heads down under? 

Esteban Ocon 

Esteban Ocon’s qualifying display went somewhat under the radar as he once again outpaced teammate Fernando Alonso and secured a superb fifth on the grid. 

The Frenchman turned in a punchy drive with some very robust defending during a heart-in-mouth scrap with Alonso as the pair swapped positions during the early exchanges, before Ocon was eventually told to hold position behind the two-time world champion when Alpine felt things were at risk of boiling over. 

Ocon was promoted up a place when Alonso was forced to retire but was able to fend off McLaren’s Lando Norris in a dramatic drag race to the line to seal sixth spot and a solid haul of points for Alpine. 

Lando Norris 

It was a much better showing for McLaren in Saudi Arabia as Norris claimed the team’s first points of the season with a strong drive to seventh. 

P7 is by no means the kind of result that a team like McLaren will celebrate, particularly after the last two seasons, but given how badly its campaign started in Bahrain, this was a welcome boost. 

Norris came agonisingly close to pipping Ocon to sixth but missed out by little over a tenth in a gripping conclusion to the race. McLaren now has points on the board and will hope Saudi can be the start of a turnaround in form.

Losers 

Lewis Hamilton 

A weekend to forget for seven-time world champion Hamilton, whose difficult start to the 2022 season continued in Jeddah. 

Hamilton suffered a shock Q1 elimination during a dreadful qualifying on Saturday - his worst qualifying performance on pure pace since Silverstone 2009 - and despite his best efforts, he could only muster a solitary point in 10th. 

At one stage, Hamilton looked like he might finish sixth or seventh after running long into the first stint on Hard tyres brought him into contention during the Safety Car. But Hamilton was less fortunate during a late Virtual Safety Car period.  

Confusion and hesitation between the Mercedes pit wall and driver meant Hamilton missed the chance to pit before they closed due to stopped cars blocking the entrance, meaning he had to wait until the VSC ended to finally stop. 

That dropped Hamilton down to 12th, but he fought his way back to salvage 10th, which will act as little comfort given the mountain he and Mercedes need to climb to have any chance of competing for this year’s world title. 

Hamilton’s post-race radio message questioning “is there even a point for that position” summed up a disappointing weekend.

Sergio Perez 

Through no fault of his own, Sergio Perez’s hopes of a victory in Saudi Arabia were cruelly ended by the unfortunate timing of the Safety Car when Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams at the final corner on Lap 16. 

Latifi’s accident occurred one lap after Perez had made his one and only pit stop. With his rivals behind yet to come in to change tyres, Perez was powerless to prevent himself plummeting from first to fourth, where he ultimately finished. 

You have to feel for Perez, who produced a stunning qualifying lap to end his 215-race wait for a maiden pole and looked in complete control of the race until the Safety Car dashed his dreams of a third career win. 

Alfa Romeo 

The Saudi Arabian GP started with much promise for Alfa Romeo but ended in heartbreak as it missed out on the points with both cars. 

Valtteri Bottas once again impressed in qualifying and the Finn looked likely to translate his top-10 starting berth into another points finish until a technical issue forced him into retirement late on. 

Alfa Romeo’s start problems this time hampered Guanyu Zhou, with the Chinese rookie’s car going into anti-stall during an awful opening lap. 

Zhou’s day went from bad to worse as he picked up a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, which turned into a drive-through penalty when he failed to serve the original penalty in the pits. 

That ultimately prevented Zhou from scoring points in back-to-back events as he missed out in 11th. 

Fernando Alonso 

After emerging ahead of teammate Ocon during their intense battle for sixth place, Alonso looked to be on course for a promising result in Jeddah until his car ground to a halt with engine issues on Lap 36. 

It was an agonising end to the race for the two-time world champion, who had fought brilliantly up until that point, with a minimum P6 finish seemingly on the cards before his problem. 

Both Williams drivers 

Williams had a nightmare grand prix in Jeddah as both its cars failed to make the finish. 

First, Latifi binned his FW44 at the final corner on Lap 16, before teammate Alex Albon was forced to retire after a rather clumsy tangle with Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin at Turn 1 with three laps to go.  

A desperate lunge that Albon had no chance of pulling off has earned him a three-place grid penalty for the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks, further compounding a truly miserable race for the struggling British outfit.