Max Verstappen (Red Bull) kept the Saudi Arabian Grand Prixsecond date of Formula 1, after prevailing in a great fight against Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), which came second, although leads the championship. Both staged an exciting fight in the end. The podium was completed Carlos Sainz (Ferrari).
In the departure Sergio “Checo” Perez (Red Bull), who took pole position on Saturday, defended well from the attempted Leclerc and when arriving at the first curve it maintained the place of privilege. While Sainz could not defend against Verstappenwhich captured the third position.
Checo’s pace at the front was good and that allowed him to gain 2.3 seconds from Leclerc after the first 15 laps. At that point, Hamilton managed to advance six positions and is already tenth.
Although the great duel in the opening laps was provided by the two Alpine drivers, Fernando Alonso and Esteban Oconwho fought in rounds 5, 7 and 12, but the most critical “encounter” was in round 8, where the Frenchman went too far in the first corner and had to return the position to the Spanish.
The first scene hit came on lap 16, when Nicholas Latifi he collided with his Williams and the race was neutralized. Earlier, Ferrari made a radio call to its drivers and Red Bull precipitated Pérez’s entry. Leclerc inherited the lead and with the race neutralized, he pitted and returned to the track first, followed by Verstappen and Checo in third. All the drivers put on hard compound tires.
At the restart Leclerc kept the lead followed by Verstappen, Checo Pérez and Sainz, who claimed to the stewards that he crossed the safety car line earlier when leaving the pits compared to Pérez. Without the authorities notifying Checo that he should return the position, the Mexican himself gave in to the Ferrari driver.
Verstappen later claimed on the radio that Leclerc stepped outside the limits of the track, something that the stewards did not consider. As long as Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), who started 16th, advanced and placed sixth after overtaking Kevin Magnussen (Haas).
It was on turn 37 that another dramatic event occurred with the abandonment of three cars due to mechanical failures in one lap: Fernando Alonso (Alpine / no engine power), Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren / brakes) and Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo / engine temperature).
But the best came at the end with the greatest emotions in the fight for the lead on laps 42 and 43 when Leclerc and Verstappen had no respite. Although the Dutchman managed to overtake the Monegasque, the Monegasque returned the courtesies by passing through the main straight.
Although on lap 46, Verstappen attacked again and took command. In the last laps Leclerc tried, but could not. The world champion won and achieved his first win of the yearbut the Ferrari Monegasque remains on top of the championship.
“It was a great fight and I like to run like this”, Verstappen recounted. “All races should be like this. We had a different setup from Max. We have been pushing in a difficult race and to the limit and of course there is respect, but I am a bit disappointed”, said Leclerc.
“I passed in front of the safety car line and the rules are the rules,” said Sainz about the maneuver with Pérez. “The Red Bulls came very fast at the end”, concluded the Spaniard, who completed the podium.
Czech Perez finished fourth ahead of George Russell (Mercedes). The top ten was completed Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Lando Norris (McLaren), Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri), Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), who made another stop on lap 41 (they put medium tires), when he was sixth and lost four positions.
The next date will be April 10 with the Australian Grand Prix, one of the races that returns this season after two years of absence due to the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be run again at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne.
SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX – QUALIFIER
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP OF DRIVERS (FIRST 5)
1- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 45 points
2- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 33 points
3- Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 25
4- George Russell (Mercedes) 22 points
5- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 16 points
CONSTRUCTORS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (FIRST 5)
1) Ferrari (78)
2) Mercedes (38)
3) Red Bull (37)
4) Alpine (16)
5) Haas (12)