Formula 1

Formula 1: Perez leads Red Bull 1-2 in Saudi Arabia

Feature Image Credit: @F1 twitter

Sergio Perez converts pole position to victory the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in a dominant display which also saw teammate end up 2nd after starting 15th.

Perez had a poor start to the race, getting jumped by Fernando Alonso off the line. The Aston Martin’s joy was short lived however, as not only had Perez retaken the lead by lap 4, but Alonso also received a five-second penalty for not lining up on the grid correctly.

Further back the start of the race also saw Verstappen and Leclerc gain two and three positions respectively, whilst Piastri had to come in for a new front wing after a minor collision with Pierre Gasly’s Alpine.

Despite Perez being able to pass Alonso quite easily, the Spaniard was able to keep within his DRS until lap 10, by which point the gap to Russell in 3rd was over 5 seconds. Alonso began to fall away from Perez after the gap formed.

The early stages of the race saw numerous overtakes from Leclerc and Verstappen. Lap 7 saw Leclerc overtake Gasly for 8th, Verstappen got into the top 10 on lap 8, and Leclerc then moved into 7th over Hamilton on lap 9.

Lap 12 saw Verstappen fly past on Hamilton, with the Red Bull utilising it’s straight line advantage. Hamilton had been one of the only drivers to start on hard tyres, and had not been enjoying their lack of grip.

Both Ferrari cars managed to overcut Lance Stroll, who had managed to hold them back well. However this wouldn’t have an impact for long as Stroll would retire on lap 18 with a mechanical failure. This brought out the safety car, which allowed the likes of Perez, Alonso, Russell and Verstappen to box. The safety car proved particularly useful for Verstappen, who was now 4th since the Ferrari’s pitted under green flags.

Image credit: @F1 Twitter

Once racing resumed Perez managed to pull out a two second gap to Alonso in one lap. Verstappen made relatively light work of Russell and Alonso, taking 3rd place on lap 23 then 2nd by lap 25. However by this point the gap to Perez was 5.5 seconds. The gap between the Red Bulls remained remarkably consistent throughout the rest of the race, with Verstappen unable to make significant inroads on his teammate.

Alex Albon suffered brake issues on lap 27, having to crawl around the track until he eventually retired the car. The race settled down a fair bit following this.

Ferrari struggled for pace on the hard tyres, unable to catch Hamilton.

Both Red Bull drivers had complained of minor issues on their cars. Perez complained of having long brakes, but was reassured by his team that they were fine. Then, Verstappen complained of a weird noise and felt he needed to protect the drive shaft, which has caused headaches all weekend.

Hamilton was enjoying life on his new medium tyres, and Mercedes had initially asked Russell to move over for him, but nothing came of this as his pace advantage disappeared.

Tsunoda and Magnussen battled hard for the final points paying positions. The Alpha Tauri was able to hang on until lap 46, when Magnussen finally managed to get past.

With just a couple of laps to go, Mercedes encourage Russell to push because of a potential Alonso penalty. The rear jack had touched the Spaniard’s Aston Martin whilst serving his initial 5 second penalty from the start of the race. The FIA had initially given Alonso a 1o second penalty for this, dropping him down to 4th. However, Aston Martin successfully appealed to overturn the decision. This makes Fernando Alonso the 6th driver to reach 100 podiums in F1.

Sergio Perez became the 2nd driver to lead Verstappen in a 1-2, after Daniel Ricciardo did at Malaysia 2016. Verstappen managed to get the fastest lap on the last lap of the race, securing top spot of the driver’s standings by one point.

Formula 1 returns on April 2nd for the Australian Grand Prix.


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