F1 winners and losers from 2024 Saudi Arabian GP

Max Verstappen won his second race of the season, while Oliver Bearman won plenty of praise on his F1 debut, but who else stood out?

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Another dominant display from Red Bull meant that the order at the front for the Formula 1 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was not much different from the season opener in Bahrain as Max Verstappen celebrated reaching another milestone in Jeddah.

The Dutchman made it 100 career podiums for Red Bull and nine victories in a row to underline his superiority in the spot, with Sergio Perez coming home in second behind him to complete a second consecutive 1-2 finish for the team.

Charles Leclerc took the final spot on the podium after a solid drive for Ferrari, but much of the overtaking took place further down the grid with Lewis Hamilton enjoying a fine scrap with both McLarens, while Kevin Magnussen proved to be a handy cork in the bottle for Haas.

Total Motorsport looks at the winners and losers from the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP after a weekend filled with drama and high-octane action.

Winner: Oscar Piastri

This weekend could be Oscar Piastri’s “coming of age” moment in the McLaren team, despite winning the Qatar sprint race in 2023 and despite being heavily frustrated by Lewis Hamilton throughout the majority of the race.

Why? The young Australian, for the first time, was head and shoulders above Lando Norris in terms of speed and he used that to finish in fourth some 13 seconds up the road on his experienced team-mate.

He has a little bit to learn about sealing an overtake after Hamilton continuously repelled him lap after lap but he’s only in his 24th F1 race so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
After all, he was up against a highly talented and highly experienced seven-time world champion.

Loser: Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc at the 2024 Bahrain GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office
Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc at the 2024 Bahrain GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

There isn’t much for drivers to enjoy about travelling to Saudi Arabia but for the race itself, so spare a thought for Carlos Sainz, who was confined to a hospital bed for two days after undergoing appendix surgery.

The Spaniard not only lost out on a race to prove himself against Charles Leclerc, he lost momentum after his impressive Driver of the Day display at the Bahrain GP. Sainz doesn’t have a seat for 2025 yet and he would have been desperately unhappy not to get into the car this weekend.

Meanwhile, Ferrari’s 18-year-old prodigy Ollie Bearman made it look incredibly easy to step into the car at a moment’s notice and secure six world championship points on his debut with an impressive seventh-place finish.

It would be unfair if Bearman’s display is used as a proverbial stick to beat Sainz with for the rest of the season, given his own health scare allowed the teenager the chance to step into the car. But Sainz certainly lost out in putting himself in the shop window.

Winner: Fernando Alonso/Aston Martin

A spectacular drive by the seasoned Spaniard allowed himself and Aston Martin to collect a sensational fifth place, which seemed well beyond the realms of what was current possible for the car after the Bahrain GP.

By retaining where he qualified, Alonso brought home a very valuable haul of 10 points as the team bids to fight their way back up to McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari.

Alonso’s qualifying onboard shows he hasn’t lost his competition and ability to drive on a knife’s edge either, with his risk and commitment only being bettered by Max Verstappen’s expert precision.

Fernando Alonso during 2024 Saudi Arabian GP Qualifying | Aston Martin

Loser: Kevin Magnussen

It’s difficult to remember the last time a driver picked up two 10-second penalties in the same race for illegal overtaking manoeuvres, but Magnussen’s bull-in-a-china-shop imitation was enough to force the stewards into action in Jeddah.

Quite what the 32-year-old was thinking shoving Alex Albon into a wall when he had ample space on the left is anyone’s guess. Magnussen is known to get his elbows out when scrapping for position, but the Haas driver usually does it within the confines of the law. However, he was far too aggressive and deservedly picked up a penalty for damaging both of their cars.

Then the second offence saw him go off the race track after out-braking himself to overtake Yuki Tsunoda. He didn’t give the place back and the stewards made an example of the way he ignored their instructions by slapping him with another 10-second time penalty.

He will feel that he redeemed himself by holding up the drivers behind him to lend a hand to Nico Hulkenberg. But in doing so, he inflicted more damage on himself after the German scored a point.

Winner: Sergio Perez

The 33-year-old proved that Bahrain’s pace wasn’t a fluke as he finished eight seconds behind his rapid teammate on track, despite qualifying third.

Perez showed good race pace throughout, enough that he kept tabs on Verstappen and served as a reminder that he couldn’t take his foot of the proverbial and literal gas.

A five-second penalty for an unsafe release that wasn’t his fault made the gap to Verstappen look greater than it was, although it’s unclear to what extent the championship leader actually loosened his wheels.

Loser: Visa Cash App RB

Yuki Tsunoda of Visa Cash App RB in the Pitlane during qualifying for 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

It was only in mid-February that early predictions from testing saw pundits and fans predict the second-quickest team behind Red Bull would be the newly named RB. The reality is far different, and actually much more similar to what we saw in 2023 from the team formerly known as AlphaTauri.

After resolving the unnecessary feud between Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo, Laurent Mekies clearly has a bigger issuer at hand with the lack of competitiveness from his team. Both drivers are yet to gain a place from their qualifying positions and Tsunoda actually fell back from 10th to 14th to underline his struggles.

With some inside knowledge and an Honda/RB Powertrains combined effort to assemble the parts of their car, it’s a mystery why they are so slow. Ricciardo finishing 16th, for example, highlights how they are regressing and being left behind by teams such as Haas, who scored a point in Saudi Arabia.

RB have a new name, livery and boss… but so far, it’s been the same underwhelming results from a team struggling to find its place in F1.

Winner: Haas

Ayao Komatsu’s Haas team may have picked up the most valuable point in their history following Nico Hulkenberg’s 10th-placed finish after Lance Stroll dramatically crashed out in the early laps.

With the five teams behind Aston Martin in the pecking order being a considerable way off the pace, they are living on scraps as far as chances to bag points are concerned.
So when they were handed the chance, their drivers, who are rivals-turned-teammates, co-operated expertly in order to earn the new team principal’s first tally on the board.

Kevin Magnussen’s defensive mastery was on full show (if you overlook the 10-second time penalties) as he backed up all of the cars behind him allowing Nico Hulkenberg to overcut the entire group.

On fresher tyres, the German then took off to drive home the one solitary point that puts them above Alpine, Sauber, RB and Williams. Haas also proved they’re good on their tyres now too, meaning Komatsu solved a five-year-long problem in around about two months. Great work.

Loser: Pierre Gasly

He came into this weekend with a positive mindset, ready to “learn more” about the car in front of him. What he learned was that, in addition to its ultimate lack of pace, Alpine’s reliability might be even worse.

Having managed to avoid last place by qualifying 18th, Gasly didn’t even get to complete the first lap before the trouble started and he watched on as his team-mate – or better yet, rival – Esteban Ocon finished a respectable 13th.

With every race, he must be wondering how quickly he can try and convince Toto Wolff to get him out of this nightmare and snap up Lewis Hamilton’s vacant seat for next year.

While it’s convenient being in a French team when that’s your native tongue, that only serves well for the Alpine brand in practice. For Gasly, he’s racing alongside a team-mate who he hates losing to and in a car arguably slower than a Fiat Panda.

He is now dead last in the drivers’ standings in 21st. Alpine’s upgrades, whenever they are due to arrive, cannot come soon enough.

Additional reporting by Brandon Sutton

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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