Riyadh [Saudi Arabia], December 6 (ANI): Lewis Hamilton won a controversial debut Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from pole position ahead of Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas amid two red-flag stoppages.
The result means the two championship protagonists go to the Abu Dhabi finale level on points. Hamilton led Bottas and Verstappen - who shrugged off his qualifying crash - at the start but on Lap 10, Mick Schumacher spun and hit the Turn 23 barriers. The Safety Car soon turned into a red flag, crucially giving Verstappen a free stop in the pits, while the Mercedes had stopped under yellows.
"The Lap 15 standing start saw Hamilton lead, but Verstappen went wide and off-track at the first chicane, cutting back across Hamilton, who dropped to P3 behind Alpine's Esteban Ocon (who also enjoyed a red flag tyre change and the subsequent advantage). However, there were two separate incidents behind in which Sergio Perez was collected by Charles Leclerc and Nikita Mazepin collided with George Russell - so another red flag was called," read an official F1 report.
Ocon, who had benefitted from a stop during the first red flag, missed out on a podium by just a tenth of a second having lost P3 right on the line at the chequered flag. That put the Alpine driver fourth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren, who started 11th but enjoyed a rapid start and a red-flag pit stop for P5.
Abu Dhabi hosts the season finale, and with Hamilton having taken 26 points to Verstappen's 18 here, the championship protagonists are now equal on 369.5 points. But the fallout from Jeddah may well continue through the night, with the stewards set to investigate Hamilton and Verstappen's Turn 27 tussle after the race. (ANI)