Verstappen leads dominant Red Bull 1-2 victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Verstappen leads dominant Red Bull 1-2 victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Red Bull took a dominant 1-2 victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen taking his 56thcareer win ahead of team-mate Sergio Pérez who shrugged off a five-second penalty to take second place ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.


Oliver Bearman had a dream debut. The team’s reserve driver, a product of the Scuderia Ferrari Driver Academy, began his weekend as a Formula 2 driver and ended it as the 97th driver to race for Ferrari in a Formula 1 Grand Prix


At the start, both Red Bull drivers got away well and as Verstappen took the lead from pole, Checo, from third on the grid, was able to pass front-row starter Leclerc around the outside into Turn 1. The Ferrari driver fought back, however, and drawing alongside Checo, he held the inside line into Turn 4 and moved ahead of the Mexican again to reclaim P2. 


Behind the top three, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri got past the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso to steal fourth place, while Lando Norris in the other McLaren settled into sixth place, despite there being a suspicion that the Briton might have jumped the start. The Briton would later be investigated and cleared by the stewards.


Once DRS was in play, Pérez began to close in on Leclerc and at the end of lap three the Mexican got a good run out of the final corner to set up a DRS-assisted move past the Ferrari into Turn 1. 


However, on lap seven, the race was briefly neutralised when Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll clipped the wall and slid off track and into the barriers. The Canadian was unharmed but with his car buried in the tyre barrier the Safety Car was deployed. 


That was the cue for a rush to the pits for most of the field, but Norris and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton elected to stay on track. Thus, under the Safety Car, the McLaren driver led the race ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton, Pérez, Leclerc and Piastri. Alonso was now seventh ahead of Haas’ Nico Hülkenberg who has also stayed on track, Mercedes’ George Russell and non-stopping Sauber driver Zhou Guanyu.


The Safety Car left the track at the end of lap nine and on the restart Norris managed to hold the lead ahead of Verstappen. The McLaren driver, on starting mediums that were already up to temperature, quickly broke the one-second DRS barrier to Verstappen, whose Hard tyres were still getting into the right window. 


However, once the Hard tyres began to get into working range, there was no resisting the Red Bull pair. At the start of lap 13 Verstappen eased past Norris to reclaim the lead and just behind, Pérez powered past Hamilton to take P3. Leclerc then repeated that move on lap 15 to fourth place. 


Pérez was then handed a five-second time penalty. During the flurry of pit stops the Mexican had to dive out into the pit lane ahead of Alonso following his tyres switch and on lap 16 he was handed a sanction for an unsafe release. 


Pérez’s pace was enough to quickly erase that penalty, however, and at the start of lap 18 he powered past Norris to move back to second place.


At half distance Verstappen was almost seven seconds ahead of his team-mate, while the Mexican driver had a similar advantage over Norris, who was beginning to come under pressure from Leclerc. 


At the front, the race now settled, with the major squabbles taking place behind. Piastri moved to fourth after Hamilton pitted and when Norris also made his sole stop, the pair  dropped behind Ferrari rookie Oliver Bearman who held seventh. 


With ten laps remaining, out front, Verstappen was in total control. The champion was managing his pace well, with eight seconds in hand over Pérez who was a comfortable 12 seconds clear of Leclerc.


And from there, Verstappen closed out his 56th career win with ease, crossing the line eight seconds ahead of Pérez, which turned to 13 after the Mexican took his time penalty. That penalty posed no threat to the 1-2, however, and Pérez took his 37th podium finish with five seconds in hand over Leclerc. 


Piastri took fourth for McLaren, with Alonso fifth for Aston Martin ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell. Bearman held on well to take an impressive P7 on his F1 debut ahead of Norris and Hamilton and the final point went to Haas’ Nico Hülkenberg. 


2024 FIA Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda RBPT 50 1:20'43.273 
2 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda RBPT 50 1:20'56.916 13.643
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 50 1:21'01.912 18.639
4 Oscar Piastri McLaren/Mercedes 50 1:21'15.280 32.007
5 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin/Mercedes 50 1:21'19.032 35.759
6 George Russell Mercedes 50 1:21'23.209 39.936
7 Ollie Bearman Ferrari 50 1:21'25.952 42.679
8 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 50 1:21'28.981 45.708
9 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 50 1:21'30.664 47.391
10 Nico Hülkenberg Haas/Ferrari 50 1:22'00.269 1'16.996
11 Alexander Albon Williams/Mercedes 50 1:22'11.627 1'28.354
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 50 1:22'29.010 1'45.737
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 49 1:20'47.274 1 lap /4.001
14 Yuki Tsunoda RB/Honda RBPT 49 1:20'48.806 1 lap /5.533
15 Logan Sargeant Williams/Mercedes 49 1:20'50.058 1 lap /6.785
16 Daniel Ricciardo RB/Honda RBPT 49 1:21'03.988 1 lap /20.715
17 Valtteri Bottas Sauber/Ferrari 49 1:21'06.388 1 lap /23.115
18 Zhou Guanyu Sauber/Ferrari 49 1:21'12.826 1 lap /29.553
     Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 5 8'05.608 Accident
     Pierre Gasly Alpine/Renault 1 2'01.453 Gearbox
     Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0 - Withdrawn

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