until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Perez holds Verstappen at bay for Saudi Arabian GP win

by Josh Suttill
7 min read

Sergio Perez claimed his fifth Formula 1 victory by keeping his Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen at bay in the second half of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Polesitter Perez briefly lost the lead to a fast-starting Fernando Alonso on the run down to Turn 1 on the opening lap, but he reclaimed the lead into the same corner on lap four.

He built a pitstop buffer over Verstappen who was charging through the field from 15th on the grid after a driveshaft failure wrecked his qualifying and looked to be Perez’s biggest threat.

But that buffer evaporated when Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin ground to a halt on lap 18 of 50 and warranted the sole safety car of the race.

That safety car allowed Alonso to serve a five-second time penalty he picked up for being out of position in his grid spot without losing second place.

Alonso was soon overtaken by Verstappen – who was fourth at the safety car restart but wasted little time in blasting past George Russell and Alonso to move into second behind Perez.

Perez held a margin of just over six seconds at that stage and he was able to more or less maintain that with Verstappen never getting the gap below four seconds.

Both drivers complained of potential issues with their RB19s – Perez complained about his brake pedal while Verstappen was spooked by noises aboard his car – and the team effectively attempted to call off the fight by asking the drivers to stick to 1m33s lap times.

Verstappen kicked on and set laps in the 1m32s, something Perez then had to match. Perez was able to match Verstappen and won the race with a 5.3 advantage to secure his fourth F1 win with Red Bull.

Perez was on course to secure the fastest lap point and move into the lead of the F1 drivers’ championship for the first time in his career but Verstappen pushed hard on the final lap to claim the point and maintain his points lead.

Alonso couldn’t keep pace with the Red Bulls but he gapped the chasing Mercedes cars and crossed the line in third place for the second consecutive race weekend but he lost that podium finish shortly after the race as he was found to have not served his penalty correctly.

That handed Russell the final place on the podium with Alonso dropping to fourth.

Lewis Hamilton, who was unable to use his medium tyre advantage to pass the hard-shod Russell after the safety car restart, finished in fifth place, just three tenths adrift of Alonso after his penalty.

The Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc (from 12th on the grid) were sixth and seventh at the chequered flag, unable to make an impression on the Mercedes duo.

Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly were eighth and ninth while Kevin Magnussen scored Haas’s first point of the season with a late-race pass on Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri.

McLaren had another point-less race with Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris picking up front wing damage on the opening lap and needing pitstops that wrecked their race. Piastri finished in 15th, two places ahead of Norris.

Stroll and the Williams of Alex Albon, who retired while complaining of braking issues, were the only drivers who didn’t see the chequered flag.

Race Results

Pos Name Car Laps Laps Led Total Time Fastest Lap Pitstops Pts
1 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 50 47 1h21m14.894s 1m32.188s 1 25
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 50 0 +5.355s 1m31.906s 1 19
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 50 3 +20.728s 1m32.24s 1 15
4 George Russell Mercedes 50 0 +25.866s 1m32.433s 1 12
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 50 0 +31.065s 1m32.941s 1 10
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 50 0 +35.876s 1m32.822s 1 8
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 50 0 +43.162s 1m33.056s 1 6
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 50 0 +52.832s 1m33.222s 1 4
9 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault 50 0 +54.747s 1m33.392s 1 2
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 50 0 +1m04.825s 1m33.374s 1 1
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 50 0 +1m07.494s 1m33.931s 1 0
12 Nico Hülkenberg Haas-Ferrari 50 0 +1m10.588s 1m33.78s 1 0
13 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 50 0 +1m16.06s 1m33.894s 2 0
14 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 50 0 +1m17.478s 1m33.609s 1 0
15 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 50 0 +1m25.021s 1m34.287s 1 0
16 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 50 0 +1m26.293s 1m34.469s 1 0
17 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 50 0 +1m26.445s 1m34.122s 2 0
18 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 49 0 +1 lap 1m34.384s 3 0
Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 27 0 DNF 1m35.567s 2 0
Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 16 0 DNF 1m35.14s 1 0
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