Formula 1

2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – What the Drivers Said after the Race in Jeddah – Part 1

6 Mins read
Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Race two of the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season is in the books, and we had a familiar result at the front of the field as Max Verstappen took a ninth consecutive win, and the nineteenth in the past twenty races.

Oracle Red Bull Racing once again dominated, with Sergio Perez overcoming a five-second time penalty for an unsafe release to finish second, while Scuderia Ferrari completed the podium with Charles Leclerc, who also took the bonus point for fastest lap on the final lap.

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit also heralded the debut of a new star as Oliver Bearman took a remarkable seventh place after being drafted in at the last moment to replace the ailing Carlos Sainz Jr.

Here is what the top ten drivers had to say after the conclusion of Saturday evening’s race under the floodlights in Jeddah.

#1 – Max Verstappen – Oracle Red Bull Racing

“It was great to get my 100th podium today and it was another great race for us this weekend. I am very happy to win here in Jeddah: it has been a great start to the year and we don’t know the full potential of the car yet so now we want to keep the momentum going.

“Because of the early pit stop with the safety car, I knew we had to work on managing the pace. Every time that I pushed I tried to extend the gap as you don’t want to be driving on the limit constantly and be taking too many risks in this circuit. It was a very long stint on the hard tyre during the race but the pace of the car was very good and I was good at managing my tyres.

“In the last stint, the tyres were getting cold and it was easy to lose the grip at the end, but we pushed through and I think we did everything well today. The ultimate goal is to fight for the championship so we are off to a great start.”

#11 – Sergio Perez – Oracle Red Bull Racing

“I think the early safety car compromised our race quite a lot unfortunately, I lost quite a lot going into traffic with Lando and Lewis, around seven to eight seconds. We needed to get through that quicker than we did to challenge for the win but other than that it was a strong drive and performance.

“I really feel like we have done the two steps forward that I was looking for this weekend, so we are getting closer to where we need to be. The Ferrari has the pace and I think there are tracks where they will be a lot closer to us, they probably didn’t maximise their full potential today and we did.

“Max is driving at a super high level and I think he is the only driver who has maximised qualifying and the race so far this season. It is great though because I have the best possible challenge in him. I must keep evolving weekend after weekend.

“Now, my full focus is on Melbourne and getting on top of what we have done here in Jeddah.”

Sergio Perez had a five-second penalty handed to him for an unsafe release – Credit: Steven Tee / LAT Images

#16 – Charles Leclerc – Scuderia Ferrari

“We maximised our potential today and couldn’t have done better than this. We struggled a bit on the Mediums, the Hards were tricky at first but improved throughout the stint and I was able to set the fastest lap on them with a bit of help from DRS. All in all, I felt good in the car.

“Ollie did an exceptional job this weekend. To get into a Formula 1 car starting from FP3, when you don’t know the car and the track is one of the most challenging of the season, it is impressive to see someone get up to speed so quickly. It was super nice to see him so happy and excited all weekend and he’s done a great job.”

#81 – Oscar Piastri – McLaren F1 Team

“P4! I think that’s definitely the most we could have got out of that race, and we executed it well. It was a bit frustrating being stuck behind Lewis Hamilton for so long, but I think that was the most amount of points we could have got this weekend, so, I’m very happy.

“I can’t wait to go to Melbourne next for my home race, I’m really looking forward to racing at my local circuit in front of the Aussie fans.” 

Oscar Piastri had a strong race in Saudi Arabia to finish fourth – Credit: Steven Tee / LAT Images

#14 – Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team

“I’m very happy with finishing fifth in today’s race. I think finishing in front of one McLaren, one Ferrari and both Mercedes is a great result for the team and probably around the maximum we can achieve at the moment.

“It was intense from start to finish and I had George [Russell] so close behind for most of the race. We went into the unknown a little bit with over 40 laps on the Hard set of tyres but we managed it all well and were able to make the one-stop strategy work.

“We will keep chasing for more performance and focus on the long term as it’s a very long season ahead.” 

#63 – George Russell – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

“It was a long evening out there. I spent nearly 40 laps within 1.5 seconds of Fernando Alonso but couldn’t get past. I had a slippery car on the straights, but I couldn’t get close enough in the high-speed to give him any real pressure. P6 was likely a fair result in the end and it’s clear that we haven’t found the sweet spot with this car just yet.

“Overall though, we need to find a bit more performance. We’ve seen potential and pace in the car, but we haven’t shown it when it’s mattered. We need to understand why that is and improve ahead of Melbourne. As we’ve seen, the pecking order behind the Red Bulls is very close so we need to get on top of it. There’s lots of work to do but I believe in the team.”

George Russell ended sixth after a tough day for Mercedes – Credit: Sam Bloxham / LAT Images

#38 – Oliver Bearman – Scuderia Ferrari

“What a great experience and opportunity to have my first race in Formula 1 with Scuderia Ferrari. It was physically demanding, especially in the end when I had Lando (Norris) and Lewis (Hamilton) behind me on Softs.

“I had to push flat out to maintain the gap and had to stay really focused, always checking my mirrors. It was a shame that the Safety Car came out so early, as I was comfortable on the Softs, but of course it was the right call to pit then and I’m very happy with the result.

“I’m confident that I maximised everything today and had great fun out there. I’ll never forget this weekend. Thank you to the whole team for their support and for giving me the chance to race.”

#4 – Lando Norris – McLaren F1 Team

“A reasonable race. We tried something with strategy but, in the end, it didn’t quite pay off – but it was a good effort and I think it was the right decision at the time as we were covering all options for the team.

“There was reasonable pace in the car today, so we maybe missed out on a couple of points, but I think we did what we could. We took a little bit of a gamble, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and today it didn’t, but it could have done! So, I’m still happy.

“I think today’s pace was pretty strong so there are some good signs there. On to the next one!” 

Lando Norris became the first driver other than Max Verstappen to lead a lap in 2024 thanks to running an alternative pit strategy – Credit: Sam Bloxham / LAT Images

#44 – Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

“We tried our best to go long today and were hoping that we might benefit from a safety car or a VSC. Unfortunately it never came to us, and we ended up finishing slightly further back than we started. It was worth trying something different though. We gave it everything we had, and that was likely the best result we could get today given how the race played out.

“There is potential within this car, but we still need to add a good amount of performance. The car today was pretty good in the medium and low-speed corners, but we were losing out in the high-speed. These next few races will be tricky but we will be putting in a great deal of effort to improve as much as we can.

“I know everyone at the factory will be getting their heads down and working as hard as they can.”

#27 – Nico Hülkenberg – MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

“One point is worth a lot these days. It felt like a very clean race, and a really good race by the team strategy-wise. We split the cars during the Safety Car which was discussed before the race and that worked out well.

“At the restart when the faster cars disappeared, I managed to get free air, good pace, and a good rhythm. I think that was key, but also the teamwork from Kevin today to slow down the others for me to be able to make a pit window. It was perfect teamwork, and I’ll return the favour to him later in the season.”

Nico Hülkenberg scored Haas’ first point of 2024 – Credit: Zak Mauger / LAT Images
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