Just seven days after the opening race of the 2022 season in Bahrain, the drivers are heading back to the track for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc was the man to beat in Bahrain, comfortably taking home the third win of his career, as Max Verstappen was forced to retire late on due to a fuel system vacuum issue.
Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez hit back in qualifying at Jeddah by claiming the first pole of his career and will start ahead of the two Ferraris on Sunday.
There was more woe for Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton failed to make it out of Q1 for the first time since 2017. The seven-time world champion starts in 16th, while team-mate George Russell is fifth.
Here’s how to watch this weekend’s race as well as what to look out for:
Leclerc looks to extend advantage
It had been a long time since a Ferrari Grand Prix win and it has been even longer since a Ferrari driver topped the drivers’ championship.
The most famous team in the sport have returned to the top after a couple of years in the doldrums but now they will want to prove it was not just one off.
How to watch Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2022
(All times GMT)
Friday 25 March
- Practice one (2pm-3pm; Sky Sports Main Event/F1)
- Practice two (5pm-6pm; Sky Sports Main Event/F1)
Saturday 26 March
- Practice three (2pm-3pm; Sky Sports F1)
- Qualifying (5pm-6pm; Sky Sports Main Event/F1)
Sunday 27 March
- Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (6pm; Sky Sports Main Event/F1)
- TV viewers can add Sky Sports Main Event or F1 to their existing satellite package
- Watch online via NOW (£20 a month season offer; £11.99 for 24-hour pass) or via the Sky Go app for existing subscribers
Throughout testing and the first race, not only has the Ferrari car looked quick but any team that had a Ferrari engine powering them proved to be one of the speediest on the grid.
Fortunes can change quickly in F1 so championship leader Charles Leclerc will know there is no time like the present to press home his advantage at the top of the table and following his performance last weekend, it seems only Red Bull can even come close to stopping him .
Verstappen and Red Bull to prove reliability issues are a thing of the past
It was a case of oh so near but oh so far for Max Verstappen in Bahrain. Twice he had overtaken race leader Leclerc, albeit for only a few seconds, before a late fuel issue prevented him for really challenging for the top step on the podium.
It went from bad to worse for Christian Horner’s team as Sergio Perez shortly spun out and lost power after Verstappen had retired to the pits but they appear to have solved the issue.
Red Bull said a fuel system vacuum issue was the cause of the problem and hard work this week, including overrunning the curfew on Wednesday, means they have solved it in time for Saudi Arabia.
Verstappen will hope that is the case as he looks to jumpstart his bid at retaining the world title. The world champion will have work to do though as he starts in fourth, behind the two Ferraris.
More damage limitation for Mercedes
Mercedes may have got on the podium last week but it took a massive slice of luck.
Afterwards, Toto Wolff said the team were taking a “chainsaw” to the car’s rear wing and while it has been noticeably lowered, it is unlikely to yield the kind of change the team needs to compete.
What this means for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell is another weekend of damage limitation before a two-week break until the next race.
For Russell, he will have a point to prove as “Mr Saturday” was out-qualified by the man he replaced, Valtteri Bottas last time out. This time he starts two places ahead and will want to prove he can step up with Hamilton out of the picture.
Magnussen aiming to prove first race was not a fluke
Fifth place for Haas seemed unimaginable two weeks ago but the team overcame all their off-track issues to achieve just that.
Expecting them to consistently finish that high is unrealistic, especially considering Red Bull are not going to DNF every race, but Guenther Steiner will want to prove his team are a consistent points scorer.
Given Mick Schumacher’s crash in qualifying means he will not race on Sunday, the focus will be on Kevin Magnussen to try and repeat his heroics from last weekend.