2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Max Wins Bearman Shines

The second race of the 2024 F1 season landed at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, for the officially titled Formula 1 STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.


By Ben Bush
Updated on March 24, 2024

Reviewed and checked by Lee Parker

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Red Bull Racing – 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

With teams and drivers returning to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia, the second race of the season saw a change of driver lineup for the first time, with Carlos Sainz sitting out FP3, Qualifying and the Race.

As was the case with the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix, Formula 1 hosted yet another race on a Saturday instead of a Sunday, with practice, quali and race day all moved a day earlier than normal to prevent an overlap with the start of Ramadan on the 10th of March.

Red Bull showed their strength again, with Max Verstappen taking his second pole of the season. He was closely followed by Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari and Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez in third.

From lights out, Max Verstappen flawlessly extended his winning streak to a ninth consecutive victory, aiming for his fourth straight F1 world championship, by leading Red Bull to another one-two finish. Ferrari’s Leclerc followed home in third.

Championship background

The race, starting at 20:00 local time, was the second race out of three to be held on a Saturday, with Las Vegas being the last of the season. The race weekend also saw the debut of British Ferrari reserve driver Oliver Bearman. Sainz, who had been feeling ill for the past few days, described Thursday’s practice session as “one of my most challenging days in Formula 1,” initially believing he was suffering from a stomach bug. However, an appendicitis diagnosis was made, requiring surgery.

Bearman’s entry made him the youngest British F1 driver at the time, the youngest ever Ferrari driver at the time, the first English Ferrari driver since Nigel Mansell, and the first driver since Arturo Merzario, in 1972, to make his F1 debut in a Ferrari. He also beat Lewis Hamilton by becoming the first British driver in a Ferrari since Eddie Irvine in 1999.

Race entries

The lineup of drivers and teams remained the same as the 2024 season’s opener, other than Carlos Sainz being replaced by reserve driver Oliver Bearman.

Tyre choices

Compared with the abrasive surface of the Bahrain circuit, the Jeddah Corniche Circuit has very different characteristics, with a smooth, high-speed tarmac. Pirelli opted for the three “intermediate” compounds: C2 (hard), C3 (medium), and C4 (soft).


Free Practice

FP1, FP2, and FP3 took place over the race weekend, with FP1 and FP2 starting on Thursday instead of Friday.

FP1 was held on the 7th of March, starting at 16:30 local time. Kicking off a promising 2024 Formula 1 season, Max Verstappen for Red Bull outperformed Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in the opening practice session with Sergio Perez, last year’s Saudi Arabian GP winner, finishing third, hinting at Red Bull’s potential to maintain its dominance after winning 21 of the 22 races in 2023.

FP2 started at 20:00 local time later that day, where conditions would be more reflective of the race itself. In a surprising turn of events, Fernando Alonso led the pack with Aston Martin during the second practice session, leaving Mercedes’ George Russell and Max Verstappen trailing in his wake.

Final practice, FP3, was held on Friday 8th of March, at 16:30 local time. At the start of the day it was announced that due to appendicitis, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz would be absent from the upcoming 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with his place being taken by Oliver Bearman, the team’s 18-year-old British reserve driver. Max Verstappen led the timings, with Leclerc in second and Perez in third. Bearman came through in a commendable 10th, considering it was his first free practice session of the weekend and with a full race at stake the following day.

Full Free Practice Reports


Qualifying was held on the 8th of March 2024, at 20:00 local time. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen continued his quest to retain the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship, outpacing Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for pole position. Charles Leclerc delivered a stunning performance to finish just behind Verstappen, preventing Red Bull from locking out the front row as Sergio Perez settled for third.

Oliver Bearman, taking Carlos Sainz’s seat at Ferrari following Sainz’s appendicitis surgery, narrowly missed the top ten, finishing eleventh after a close run in Q1 and Q2. Despite a stunning effort Bearman reflected: “The soft tyre lasts quite well, it’s quite durable, so just tried to get as many laps in Q1. Q2 was a bit more messy, a few mistakes on my side, so that’s where I’m disappointed.”

Full Qualifying Report

1Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing1:28.1711:28.0331:27.472
2Charles LeclercFerrari1:28.3181:28.1121:27.791
3Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing1:28.6381:28.4671:27.807
4Fernando AlonsoAston Martin1:28.7061:28.1221:27.846
5Oscar PiastriMcLaren1:28.7551:28.3431:28.089
6Lando NorrisMcLaren1:28.8051:28.4791:28.132
7George RussellMercedes1:28.7491:28.4481:28.316
8Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:28.9941:28.6061:28.460
9Yuki TsunodaRB1:28.9881:28.5641:28.547
10Lance StrollAston Martin1:28.2501:28.5781:28.572
11Oliver BearmanFerrari1:28.9841:28.642
12Alexander AlbonWilliams1:29.1071:28.980
13Kevin MagnussenHaas1:29.0691:29.020
14Daniel RicciardoRB1:29.0651:29.025
15Nico HulkenbergHaas1:29.055DNF
16Valtteri BottasSauber1:29.179
17Esteban OconAlpine1:29.475
18Pierre GaslyAlpine1:29.479
19Logan SargeantWilliams1:29.526
NCZhou GuanyuSauberDNF

What happened in the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?

Verstappen initially led the race from pole position but conceded the lead to Norris in the McLaren after the Safety Car was deployed due to an early crash by Lance Stroll.

Taking advantage of the early pit stop opportunity under the Safety Car, most front-runners opted for hard-compound tyres, aiming to reach the end of the race without another pit stop. Norris, however, moved into the lead by choosing not to pit.

At that time, Norris was the second McLaren driver behind Piastri. Opting not to pit helped him avoid losing time behind his teammate, as the team avoided stacking their cars for a pit stop. Similarly, Mercedes decided to pit only their leading driver, Russell, leaving Hamilton to gain temporary advantage on the track by staying out like Norris.

When racing resumed, Verstappen quickly overtook Norris and re-established his dominance at the front of the pack.

Perez managed to pass Leclerc’s Ferrari for second place, building on his initial attempt at the start of the race. Despite an earlier five-second penalty for an unsafe release during his pit stop under the Safety Car, Perez’s and the Red Bull RB20’s superior pace made the penalty inconsequential.

Verstappen’s victory marked his second of the 2024 season, placing him one win away from breaking his own record for consecutive F1 victories. The high-speed Jeddah track witnessed Verstappen’s dominance but the race also highlighted the intense competition behind him, with Oliver Bearman, a British driver making a surprising debut, drawing significant attention.

Oliver Bearman, at 18, had only been informed he would be racing after Carlos Sainz’s sudden appendicitis diagnosis. Despite this, he qualified 11th in a car he was unfamiliar with, showing remarkable composure throughout the weekend. His debut under the Jeddah lights was memorable. He advanced to seventh place after overtaking Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu and maintained his position under pressure from fellow Brits Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton on newer tyres towards the race’s end.

Bearman’s seventh-place finish not only scored him points on his debut but also made him the third youngest F1 driver of all time.

Oscar Piastri finished fourth for McLaren after a race spent chasing down Hamilton, who, along with several others, opted not to pit during the Safety Car. Fernando Alonso secured fifth in the remaining Aston Martin, with George Russell in sixth for Mercedes, ahead of Bearman, Norris, and Hamilton. Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the points for Haas with a commendable performance.

2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix race results

11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing501:20:43.27325
211Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing50+13.643s18
316Charles LeclercFerrari50+18.639s16*
481Oscar PiastriMcLaren50+32.007s12
514Fernando AlonsoAston Martin50+35.759s10
663George RussellMercedes50+39.936s8
738Oliver BearmanFerrari50+42.679s6
84Lando NorrisMcLaren50+45.708s4
944Lewis HamiltonMercedes50+47.391s2
1027Nico HulkenbergHaas50+76.996s1
1123Alexander AlbonWilliams50+88.354s0
1220Kevin MagnussenHaas50+105.737s0
1331Esteban OconAlpine49+1 lap0
1422Yuki TsunodaRB49+1 lap0
152Logan SargeantWilliams49+1 lap0
163Daniel RicciardoRB49+1 lap0
1777Valtteri BottasSauber49+1 lap0
1824Zhou GuanyuSauber49+1 lap0
NC18Lance StrollAston Martin5DNF0
NC10Pierre GaslyAlpine1DNF0
*Fastest lap: Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 1:31.632 (lap 50)

2024 Post-Race F1 Championship Standings

Championship standings for Drivers’ and Teams after the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

2024 Post-Race F1 Drivers’ Championship Standings

1Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT51
2Sergio PérezMEXRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT36
3Charles LeclercMONFerrari28
4George RussellGBRMercedes18
5Oscar PiastriAUSMcLaren16
6Carlos SainzESPFerrari15
7Fernando AlonsoESPAston Martin Mercedes12
8Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren12
9Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes8
10Oliver BearmanGBRFerrari6
11Nico HulkenbergGERHaas Ferrari1
12Lance StrollCANAston Martin Mercedes1
13Alexander AlbonTHAWilliams Mercedes0
14Zhou GuanyuCHNStake F1 Team0
15Kevin MagnussenDENHaas Ferrari0
16Daniel RicciardoAUSRB-Honda RBPT0
17Esteban OconFRAAlpine Renualt0
18Yuki TsunodaJPNRB-Honda RBPT0
19Logan SargeantUSAWilliams Mercedes0
20Valtteri BottasFINStake F1 Team0
21Pierre GaslyFRAAlpine Renualt0

2024 Post-Race F1 Constructors’ Championship Standings

1Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT87
3McLaren Mercedes28
5Aston Martin Mercedes13
6Haas Ferrari1
7Williams Mercedes0
8Stake F1 Team0
9RB-Honda RBPT0
10Alpine Renualt0

Seen in:

About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

Latest Reads