Verstappen beats Leclerc after thrilling Saudi Arabian GP battle

An incredible battle played out between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in Jeddah

-

Max Verstappen came out on top following a thrilling battle with Charles Leclerc during the closing stages of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Verstappen took the lead with three laps to go, having made several attempts to take first place from Leclerc in the final 10 laps.

It was a much-needed result for Verstappen, after he failed to score points at the season-opener, whilst Leclerc retains the championship lead.

Carlos Sainz finished in third, ahead of Sergio Perez who suffered some misfortune when he lost the lead due to the timing of the safety car in the early part of the race.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

A battle to remember

Leclerc appeared to have the pace to keep Verstappen at bay, but the battle for the lead was on following a late virtual safety car for Daniel Ricciardo‘s and Fernando Alonso‘s stricken cars at the entry of the pit lane.

Verstappen overtook Leclerc at the last corner with eight laps to go, but the Ferrari driver got back past on the main straight.

Both drivers wanted to not be first at the final turn because they wouldn’t have DRS on the start/finish straight.

Leclerc made the most of this trick when Verstappen attacked him on the following lap by slamming the brakes, which forced Verstappen to also brake hard. Cleverly, Leclerc responded by flooring the throttle to scamper away.

Formula One F1 – Saudi Arabia Grand Prix – Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – March 27, 2022 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates with his team after winning the race REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

It took Verstappen three laps to chase Leclerc again, before he judged the final corner antics perfectly to have DRS and blast past with three laps to go.

Despite a final pursuit from Leclerc, Verstappen held on to hit back and win his first race in 2022.

Perez’s poorly timed pit stop

Pole-sitter Perez had done everything right in the opening stint of the race, as he comfortably led the pack up until his pit stop.

Ferrari told Leclerc to “box to overtake” which triggered Red Bull to bring Perez in. Unfortunately for Perez, Nicholas Latifi crashed at the final corner which caused a safety car.

This allowed the rest of the field to pit, including Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz, so they had a cheaper pit stop and jumped Perez.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez leads at the start of the 2022 Saudi Arabian GP REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Perez initially emerged ahead of Sainz for third place, but gave the place back as Ferrari claimed the Mexican was not ahead at the white line at the end of the pit lane which dictates who gets the position when cars merge during safety car conditions.

Sainz and Perez didn’t have the pace of their respective teammates, as they fell behind and settled for third and fourth.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Hamilton’s gamble doesn’t pay off

Lewis Hamilton started from 15th, having been eliminated from the first part of qualifying on Saturday. Hamilton, along with Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg were the only drivers to start on the hard tyre.

When the safety car came out, they opted to stay out which vaulted them up the order. The virtual safety car for Ricciardo and Alonso‘s reliability retirements gave the trio an opportunity to pit.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during Saudi Arabia GP 2022 REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

However, Mercedes called Hamilton in too late and moments later the pit entry was closed. Magnussen and Hulkenberg just pitted in time to take advantage of the situation.

When Hamilton pitted, he came out in 12th and could only move up to 10th to claim one point on a dismal weekend for the seven-time world champion.

Alpine drivers nearly come to blows before Alonso retirement

The early part of the Saudi Arabian GP saw Esteban Ocon and Alonso trade positions multiple times as they aggressively raced each other lap after lap. Alonso needed to robustly overtake Ocon at Turn 2 to eventually make the pass.

Valtteri Bottas was involved in the Alpine scrap too, but he was wheeled back into the garage when on course for points.

Then, Alonso began to slow down when running in sixth place, reporting that he had no power, before coming to a halt just after Ricciardo‘s stricken car at the pit entry.

Alonso and Bottas‘ retirements gave Lando Norris seventh place, as McLaren looked much better compared to Bahrain.

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in action with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Norris nearly made a last lap overtake on Ocon, but didn’t have the power to surge past in the final sector.

Pierre Gasly scored his first points of the season in eighth, whilst Kevin Magnussen added to his fifth place from Bahrain by finishing ninth.

Alex Albon and Lance Stroll collided on the penultimate lap of the race, whilst Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher failed to start the race.

Tsunoda stopped on the way to the grid with a power unit issue, and Haas opted to not start Schumacher due to the damage his car sustained from his big crash in qualifying.

Nigel Chiu
Nigel Chiuhttps://total-motorsport.com/author/nigel-chiu/
Nigel Chiu is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who worked at Total-Motorsport for 18 months until May 2023. He has been following F1 since 2007 and hasn’t missed a Grand Prix weekend since. Nigel’s worked with several motorsport websites, plus Eurosport and subsequently went on to work with Sky Sports F1 where he travels to multiple F1 races each season.
- Advertisment -

LATEST NEWS

Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton on the podium after the 2024 Spanish GP | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Toto Wolff sets out timeline for Mercedes F1 victory

0
Toto Wolff explained the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix showed Mercedes are three-tenths behind Formula 1 pacesetters Red Bull and...
Chase Elliott leads the pack at the NASCAR Cup Series USA Today 301 in New Hampshire | NASCAR

How NASCAR had “a lot of fun” with wet weather oval racing at New...

0
When Mother Nature decided to rain on the NASCAR Cup Series' USA Today 301, however, the sport finally found...
Max Verstappen looks on at the 2024 Monaco GP | Clive Rose / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen snaps back as British GP chiefs turn on Red Bull

0
Max Verstappen has hit back at suggestions that Red Bull are to blame for lower ticket sales ahead of...
Lewis Hamilton celebrates his podium at the 2024 Spanish GP | Mercedes / Sam Bloxham

Lewis Hamilton dismisses notions he regrets Ferrari move

0
Lewis Hamilton stunned the Formula 1 world in February by announcing a dramatic switch to Ferrari to replace Carlos...
Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc during practice for the 2024 Spanish GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Charles Leclerc reveals rift with Carlos Sainz after Ferraris collide at Spanish GP

0
Charles Leclerc slammed Carlos Sainz for ruining his 2024 Spanish Grand Prix as the Ferrari drivers collided at Turn...
Lando Norris celebrates pole position at the 2024 Spanish GP | McLaren F1 Team

Lando Norris stakes claim to rival Verstappen for F1 drivers’ title

0
Lando Norris believes that his last two Formula 1 races prove he is capable of competing against Max Verstappen...
Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton on the podium after the 2024 Spanish GP | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Driver Ratings – Spanish GP 2024

0
Max Verstappen clinched his seventh Formula 1 victory of the season at the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix, but the...
Max Verstappen in the F1 paddock ahead of the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Chris Graythen / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Mercedes chairman flirts with Max Verstappen: He’d look good in silver

0
One of the most important figures within Mercedes AMG, Ola Kallenius, has declared Max Verstappen “would look good in...
Carlos Sainz during practice for the 2024 Spanish GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Carlos Sainz hits out at Lewis Hamilton over unpunished Spanish GP move

0
Carlos Sainz believes Lewis Hamilton should've been given a penalty for his overtaking move that forced the Ferrari driver...
Max Verstappen during 2024 Spanish GP Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen warning to Red Bull and demands improvement

0
Max Verstappen demands Red Bull improvement as another tough race saw the reigning world champion have to really work...
- Advertisment -