Home Automotive Sergio Perez holds off Max Verstappen’s charge to win Saudi Arabian GP

Sergio Perez holds off Max Verstappen’s charge to win Saudi Arabian GP

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA — Sergio Perez won the Saudi Grand Prix as Max Verstappen drove from 15th to 2nd to give Red Bull a 1-2 finish on Sunday.

And there are only two races so far.

“Good job, great result for the team,” said Perez, who finished about five seconds ahead of Verstappen.

The first two races of the season saw Red Bull win twice and have two 1-2 finishes, with an atmosphere of despair from everyone else on the grid.

Verstappen is aiming for a third straight win and wouldn’t worry if it was a straight fight with Perez.

“The best players come forward,” said the Dutchman.

Perez feels he hasn’t reached his peak yet.

“I don’t know if it’s going to be the best weekend for the team. Melbourne will be even better.”

Fernando Alonso finished in 3rd place for the second time in a row, taking his 100th career podium. However, he was later handed a 10-second penalty for incorrectly serving an earlier penalty, dropping him to fourth.

But while the Spaniard is enjoying a renaissance with his new Aston Martin team, Alonso admits he has little chance of beating Red Bull.

Verstappen won a record 15 races last season to clinch his second consecutive F1 title. Perez took a total of 17 wins from 23 races, easily giving Red Bull the Constructors’ title, so he won two more. George Russell, who showed no signs of poor performance in the off-season and moved up to third after Alonso’s penalty on Sunday, predicted that Red Bull would win every race this season after the season opener.

“I had fun and the car felt good,” said Russell after his 10th career podium. “I know what happened to Fernando was tough, but I was happy to get the silverware.”

Lewis Hamilton finished fifth, with Mercedes third and fifth. It comes three days after the seven-time F1 champion said Mercedes needed three other bodies to keep the team from finishing the race if it had any chance of winning. bottom.

Hamilton told the team:

Sunday’s show was Verstappen. He overcame a mechanical problem in qualifying, which forced him to start from 15th and quickly made his way up the grid. The Dutchman set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap and remained top of his F1 points ranking.

“Great recovery Max, really good drive at the end,” Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Verstappen over the radio.

Verstappen felt the late push was worth the risk.

“I tried it last time and luckily it worked,” he said.

Red Bull finished 1-2 in three consecutive races dating back to last year’s finale.

It was Perez’s fifth career victory after starting from pole position for the second year in a row at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. He briefly led the championship standings until Verstappen set the fastest lap to take the lead.

“Keep it up, keep pushing,” said the Mexican.

Perez starts from pole With Alonso on the front row next to him, Alonso quickly took the lead but was quickly penalized for being in an improper starting position. He thought he had served his five-second penalty, but the race his stewards docked him another ten seconds after the podium celebration.

Russell said “common sense needs to be applied” and Alonso was angry with the FIA’s governing bodies.

Alonso told broadcaster Sky: “I think today’s FIA is more of a show of bad luck than a disappointment of their own. You can’t apply a penalty 35 laps after a pit stop. They will let us know.” I had enough time to do it,” he said.

Perez quickly regained the lead as Verstappen and Charles Leclerc (starting 12th due to a 10 grid relegation penalty) chewed through the cars in front.

Verstappen was fourth when both Ferraris pitted for new tyres.

The 6.2-kilometer (3.8-mile) circuit by the Red Sea is F1’s fastest street track, with an average speed of over 250 kmh (160 mph) suitable for Verstappen. It took him only a few seconds to pass Russell and Alonso didn’t last long either, making it a Red Bull shootout.

Perez was solid.

Ferrari had another race to forget, with Carlos Sainz Jr. sixth and Charles Leclerc seventh. Leclerc finished, at least after retiring in Bahrain, but he wasn’t happy.

“It’s really (expletive) to be late like this. I don’t know what to do.”

Frenchmen Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly finished eighth and ninth in Alpine, with Haas driver Kevin Magnussen tenth.

Alonso’s team-mate Lance Stroll retired on lap 18, leading to a Verstappen-friendly safety car restart.

Alex Albon retired for Williams while teammate Logan Sargent started last and finished 16th. McLaren struggled again with Oscar Piastri in 15th and Lando Norris in 17th.

“A tough race after an unlucky start with damage to both cars on the opening lap. It made things very difficult to turn around. But we tried hard.” McLaren boss Zak Brown tweeted: “It’s time to get the season back on track in Australia.”

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