F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix 2021 LIVE! Hamilton leads - race updates, overtakes, strategies, TV channel

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Saudi Arabia Grand Prix – LIVE!

Lewis Hamilton will start on pole for this evening’s race in Jeddah, after Mercedes secured a front-row lockout in Saturday’s qualifying session against the odds.

Max Verstappen was on course to take pole with his last run, but crashed out in the final corner in dramatic fashion. He will start the race in third, and have to hope he can make a fast start on a circuit where overtaking is expected to be difficult.

Valtteri Bottas starts in second, with Mercedes hoping to extend their constructors championship advantage over Red Bull – they currently lead by five points.

Christian Horner and Red Bull need Sergio Perez, in fifth, to play his part and help the team, while Charles Leclerc was delighted with qualifying in fourth and will enjoy the challenge of splitting up the four fastest drivers.

Verstappen would have hoped to have potentially sealed the world championship this weekend, ahead of the final race next week in Abu Dhabi.

He leads Hamilton by eight points, but after the events on Saturday, he may have to settle with just limiting the damage.

Follow all the action with Standard Sport’s LIVE blog below…

Saudi Arabia Grand Prix latest news

  • Race: 5.30pm GMT, Jeddah Corniche Circuit

  • How to watch: Sky Sports

  • Qualifying: Hamilton on pole with Verstappen third

  • How it stands: Verstappen leads by eight points

17:43 , Matt Verri

6/50: Alonso runs deep at turn one… in fact he goes straight on. Giovinazzi pressuring him behind, in the battle for tenth place.

Bottas asking for more of a gap in front of him, wants Hamilton to push on so he isn’t racing in the dirty air.

17:40 , Matt Verri

5/50: Red Bull will be frustrated that Perez hasn’t been able to get past Leclerc. They need their man up in the top four helping his teammate.

Bottas puts in the fastest lap of the race, in the early stages. The Mercedes duo look really quick.

17:39 , Matt Verri

4/50: Perez locked up going into the first corner, as he desperately avoided going into the back of Verstappen. Ocon and Tsunoda made contact, but managed to avoid a serious incident.

Hamilton leads by nearly a second and a half over Bottas, who is more than a second up on Verstappen.

17:36 , Matt Verri

2/50: Sainz back in 15th as ground to make up, and he does well to get past Raikkonen. Up to 13th, is the Ferrari driver. Norris with a decent start too, now in sixth.

This has been a brilliant start for Mercedes. They’ve got complete control of this race.

LIGHTS OUT!

17:34 , Matt Verri

Lights out in Saudi Arabia!

It’s a great start for both Hamilton and Bottas, and it’s as we started going into the first corner.

Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez. Perez very, very nearly took out Verstappen, as he flew towards the back of his teammate.

17:33 , Matt Verri

Hamilton and Bottas want a nice quick formation lap, getting those tyres warm and back to the grid as soon as they can.

The Mercedes duo are lined up, ready to go. As is Verstappen. Seconds away now…

17:30 , Matt Verri

Lando Norris, in seventh, starting on the soft tyre. Rest of the top ten are on the mediums.

Formation lap is underway,

17:28 , Matt Verri

A few minutes away from 50 laps around the street circuit in Jeddah.

A reminder… Hamilton on pole, with Bottas alongside him on the front-row. Verstappen is third, right behind his title rival.

Leclerc starts fourth, with Red Bull’s Perez back in fifth.

17:22 , Matt Verri

Helmets going on for the drivers, we are very close to the start of the race. Should be a thrilling start, as Verstappen does everything he can to get ahead early of Bottas and Hamilton early on.

17:17 , Matt Verri

George Russell on the grid – says he doesn’t want to bring bad news, but he thinks overtaking will be difficult in the race.

With the speed of the track, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a safety car at some point.

17:12 , Matt Verri

Grid is absolutely packed, with just under 20 minutes to go until lights out.

Such a quick track, a tight track… and it’s one that will provide plenty of drama over the next couple of hours. It could even bring a world championship title.

17:06 , Matt Verri

Red Bull’s Adrian Newey: “We did all the checks we can [on Verstappen’s car], from what we can see everything is okay.”

Admits they can’t be sure though, as they can’t take the gearbox apart without being given a penalty.

Track position

17:03 , Matt Verri

As with many street circuits, overtaking is expected to be difficult this afternoon. That means track position is key… and Mercedes have that.

Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner admitted as much after qualifying yesterday, accepting that it could prove really difficult to overtake.

Expect Max Verstappen to be really aggressive at the start, knowing that could be his best chance of getting ahead of at least one of the Mercedes cars.

Lovely tribute to Sir Frank Williams

16:57 , Matt Verri

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16:54 , Matt Verri

Verstappen out on his formation lap now… well it’s all working for now!

Whether his car, or more specifically the gearbox, is up for the rigours of a full race remains to be seen.

16:52 , Matt Verri

Cars are out in the pit lane, with just under 40 minutes to go until lights out. Drivers taking the chance to get a go at a practice start.

No sign of Verstappen out yet.

No damage for Verstappen

16:41 , Matt Verri

Red Bull are confident there is no gearbox damage to Verstappen’s car, despite him going into the wall at the end of qualifying. There would have been a five-place grid penalty had they needed to change that.

They can do all the checks in the garage, but they can’t be fully sure how the car will be out on the track. It’s a risk not changing the gearbox, and it could backfire horribly for Verstappen and his team.

(REUTERS)

Hamilton’s thoughts…

16:34 , Matt Verri

“The track is unbelievably hard,” Hamilton said. “The wind shifted a bit so we had a tail wind into Turn One where on Friday it was a head-wind, and it shifted the balance a little but.

“I don’t understand, but at the last race super-slow crawling around on the tyres to be ready for lap one and then here we are doing super-fast out laps, weaving trying to get the tyres ready.

“That meant you arrived in Turn One and sometimes it was there and sometimes it wasn’t, you’re just skating, the balance was all over the place, all over the lap.

“To put a lap together was tough. I couldn’t match what [Verstappen] was doing at the end but we stayed out of the wall and did the job.”

Could be all over this afternoon….

16:30 , Matt Verri

Here are the scenarios that would see Verstappen win his first world championship this afternoon:

  • Verstappen finishes first and claims the fastest lap point, with Hamilton sixth or lower.

  • Verstappen finishes first and does not claim the fastest lap point, with Hamilton seventh or lower.

  • Verstappen finishes second and claims the fastest lap point, with Hamilton tenth or lower.

  • Verstappen finishes second and does not claim the fastest lap point, with Hamilton not scoring a point.

(Getty Images)

How it stands

16:19 , Matt Verri

There’s two big title battles going on, and this afternoon will be pivotal to both.

Verstappen leads Hamilton by eight points in the world championship, with just this race and then next week in Abu Dhabi to go. Should Hamilton win today with the fastest lap, and Verstappen finish second, we’d head to the final race of the season with both drivers on exactly the same number of points.

In the constructors championship, Mercedes have the edge by five points over Red Bull. With Sergio Perez down in fifth, and Mercedes on the front-row, it’s a big advantage for them.

Qualifying

16:06 , Matt Verri

So it’s Hamilton on pole after Verstappen’s final-corner error. The Dutchman will be behind Valtteri Bottas, with Mercedes enjoying a front-row lockout. Here’s the top ten on the grid this afternoon and their times in qualifying yesterday.

You can read all about the action from qualifying right here.

1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1 minute, 27.511 seconds.

2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes 1:27.622.

3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:27.653.

4. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 1:28.054.

5. Sergio Perez, Red Bull 1:28.123.

6. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, 1:28.125.

7. Lando Norris, McLaren, 1:28.180.

8. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, 1:28.442.

9. Esteban Ocon, Alpine, 1:28.647.

10. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, 1:28.754

How to watch Saudi Arabia Grand Prix

15:45 , Matt Verri

TV channel: Today’s race will be shown LIVE on Sky Sports F1 and Main Event. Coverage of starts at 4pm on F1 and 5pm on Main Event.

Live stream: Sky Sports subscribers can also stream the action live online via the SkyGo app.

Good afternoon!

15:31 , Matt Verri

Hello and welcome to Standard Sport’s LIVE coverage of the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix – it’s race day!

Lewis Hamilton starts on pole, after a dramatic qualifying session yesterday. Max Verstappen was on a rapid lap at the end of Q3, but crashed out at the final corner.

The Dutchman can seal the world championship this afternoon, as he leads Hamilton eight points, but faces a real fight to do so on a track many expect to be difficult for overtaking.

We’ll have all the latest updates and build-up, ahead of the race getting underway at 5.30pm GMT at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Stay tuned!

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