Formula 1

Formula 1: Verstappen wins in Saudi Arabia after a tense fight with Leclerc

Featured Image Credit: @F1 Official Twitter

A race filled with overtakes saw Max Verstappen victorious by only 0.5s from Charles Leclerc. Carlos Sainz rounded out the podium while several retirements saw the midfield mixed up.

Tsunoda’s Apha Tauri ground to a halt on the way to the grid and he wasn’t able to take the start. Combined with Schumacher, two racers wouldn’t see the green lights.

Perez’s strong start

Perez started well off the line, blocking the two Ferraris behind. Verstappen’s storming start meant he was able to snatch 3rd from Sainz by the end of lap 1.

Russell climbed from 6th to 5th with a great move on Ocon, which led to a huge fight between the Alpine cars.

Ocon took a strong defense down the main straight, which almost put Alonso into the wall. A lap later, the Alpines were side-by-side through sector 1, Alonso won out, but Ocon fought back. However, Ocon attempted to re-overtake, but went off the track at turn 1 in the process.

The Alpines stayed in formation and now began a midfield train. Bottas and Magnussen were behind and chasing hard. Magnussen attempted an overtake but, similarly to Ocon, went wide in turn 1, bouncing over the kerbs.

Hamilton was making some progress at the back and climbed to 11th on lap 12, overtaking the struggling McLaren of Norris.

As the pitlane opened, Stroll was the only one to immediately find his way in.

Pit Stop Pandemonium

Perez had a solid gap at almost 2s, he pitted on lap 15, hoping the new tyres would cover the charging scarlet cars behind. But, this would prove to be a significant mistake as Latifi crashed out, causing the deployment of the safety car.

This gave the Ferraris and Verstappen a much shorter pit stop time, meaning that the Mexican was set to slide down the order. An unpredictable mistake had majorly hurt the Mexican, through no fault of his own. He was able to emerge from the pitlane just infront of Sainz, but was down in 3rd.

The safety car was out for a long amount of time, throwing the pit strategy into disarray.

On the restart, Leclerc defended well from Verstappen, but Perez lost out to Sainz. Russell had to defend hard from Magnussen, who had yet to pit. Hamilton, also without pitting, was trailing the Haas and they engaged in a tense battle. Hamilton eventually won out and Magnussen soon lost a place to Alonso as well.

McLaren were having a less than successful day. Halfway through the race, the Papaya cars started a battle, but only for 11th place.

Tense conclusion

Shockingly, Alonso, Ricciardo and Bottas all suffered mechanical problems on the same lap and had to retire, bringing out the Virtual Safety Car.

Hamilton was yet to pit and bizzarely chose not to during the VSC period. After it ended he almost immediately took to the pits and came out in 12th. He was able to battle back to 10th to earn a solitary point.

But, a monumental battle for the lead was about to take place. Like Bahrain, both Leclerc and Verstappen swapped positions in a tense duel. However, while Leclerc was victorious in Bahrain, Verstappen took the win in Saudi. After a pointless finish last week, this result was exactly what was needed to propel Verstappen back into the championship fight. The pair crossed the line with only 0.5s between them, one of the closest finishes in recent memory.

Perez managed to finish 4th, but will rue a mistake that was out of his control. Russell took a strong 5th place, especially considering his team-mate’s final position of 10th. However, he was over 30s behind the leaders. Ocon just kept 6th after a dash to the line with Norris, while Gasly took 8th. Magnussen finished in 9th, but he and Hamilton were over a minute behind the leaders.

  1. Verstappen
  2. Leclerc +0.548s
  3. Sainz +8.097s
  4. Perez +10.800s
  5. Russell +32.732s
  6. Ocon +56.017s
  7. Norris +56.124s
  8. Gasly +62.946s
  9. Magnussen +64.308s
  10. Hamilton +73.958s
  11. Zhou +82.215s
  12. Hulkenberg +91.742s
  13. Stroll +1 Lap
  14. Albon RET
  15. Bottas RET
  16. Alonso RET
  17. Ricciardo RET
  18. Latifi + 1 Lap
  19. Tsunoda DNS
  20. Schumacher DNS

Featured Image Credit @F1 Official Twitter

 

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