Perez heads nervous Red Bull one-two in Jeddah

Sergio Perez won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in another Red Bull one-two

Sergio Perez won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in another Red Bull one-two

Sergio Perez has held on to a nervy one-two for Red Bull in the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Perez commanded the race and had an answer for everything team-mate Max Verstappen had to throw at him in the latter stages.

The pair comfortably headed Fernando Alonso at the chequered flag with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton trailing him home.

UPDATE: Fernando Alonso has lost third place following a post-race time penalty

Down the order, Oscar Piastri finished 16th, passing team-mate Lando Norris in the closing laps – the McLaren drivers on different strategies – after the pair struck early trouble.

At the race start, Alonso got the better getaway to take the lead of the race from Perez into Turn 1 with George Russell in third.

In the pack, there was contact for Piastri who picked up a damaged front wing exiting Turn 2 when he brushed Pierre Gasly.

Lance Stroll made a strong start and rounded Carlos Sainz at Turn 13, taking the long way around at the banked left-hander.

Piastri boxed at the end of the lap while officials placed Alonso under investigation for an incorrect starting location on the grid – too far left – which resulted in a five-second penalty soon after.

Perez attacked Alonso into Turn 1  on Lap 2 but was unable to make the move stick.

McLaren’s difficult start was compounded when Lando Norris picked up damage on Lap 2, forcing him into the lane for a new front wing.

Once DRS was enabled, Alonso’s time at the front of the race came to an end.

Perez opened his rear wing and breezed by the Aston Martin driver as they began Lap 5.

As he was doing that, Verstappen was moving forward, passing Nico Hulkenberg to claim 12th after starting 15th.

The Dutchman was by the other Haas a lap later as he set off after Zhou Guanyu in 10th.

Charles Leclerc was also making progress, poaching eighth from Pierre Gasly as they started Lap 8.

The Ferrari driver was on the soft compound tyres, versus the mediums of most around him, aside from Lewis Hamilton who had the hards bolted to his Mercedes.

The Englishman was warned about weaving on the straight before offering no resistance to Leclerc as he scythed by at Turn 1 on Lap 9.

It was soon Verstappen’s turn to attack Hamilton, easing out of a move into the final corner on Lap 11 so he could use DRS to complete the pass with ease on the front straight.

The hard tyre was not working well which prompted those towards the front of the race to extend their opening stint.

The pit window opened after 12 laps with Lance Stroll the first of the front runners to box on Lap 14.

Sainz pitted two laps later, a strategy which saw the Spaniard clear the Aston Martin courtesy of the overcut.

Next in was Leclerc, who took to the lane just as he came under pressure from Verstappen.

The Monegasque driver rejoined also in front of Stroll, who lost two places in the pit cycle.

The Canadian’s race didn’t last much longer as he was told to stop on track at Turn 13.

That triggered the Safety Car, prompting a flurry of pit lane activity.

Race leader Perez boxed at the end of Lap 18, followed in by Alonso, Russell, Verstappen who did not need to stack, and then Hamilton who was in the same situation at Hamilton.

Alonso’s stop was delayed by five seconds courtesy of his penalty from the race start, though it ultimately cost him nothing in terms of track position as he remained second.

The order behind the Safety Car following the pit stops was Perez, Alonso, Russell, Verstappen, Sainz, Hamilton, and Leclerc.

Piastri did not stop again and sat 16th on the hard compound tyres that had been fitted on Lap 1.

McLaren rolled the dice with Norris, pitting him a second time under the Safety Car to fit a set of medium tyres, having run a single lap on the unfavoured hards.

The race restarted on Lap 21, Perez sprinting clear while two Alpines narrowly avoided contact as they rounded the first complex.

Hamilton put a move on Sainz exiting Turn 2 as they began Lap 22, the Mercedes driver the only one in the top 10 on the medium tyres.

Sainz had covered Turn 1 only to go deep, compromising him at Turn 2 which made him easy pickings for Hamilton.

That left the Mercedes fifth, one spot back from Verstappen who was busy shaping up for a move on Russell.

The Red Bull was soon through on the run to the last corner before pulling clear, Russell left with no answer even with DRS down the front straight.

A lap later, Verstappen looked at Alonso at the same corner before waiting until he could use DRS to breeze by on the front straight.

It left a Red Bull one-two with Perez 5.7s clear of Verstappen in second, with Alonso relegated to third.

Problems for Albon saw the Williams driver slow on Lap 27 as he cruised back to the pits with brake issues.

Running second, Verstappen inched closer to team-mate Perez ahead before reporting a strange noise from his car at high speed.

In the cockpit, the Dutchman became increasingly urgent with his messages over the radio.

Ahead, Perez reported a long brake pedal to only ramp up the stress on the Red Bull pit wall.

He was subsequently instructed it was wear and there was no deeper issue in the RB19.

From there it was a case of managing the cars, and the drivers, to the flag; Perez holding on for victory ahead of Verstappen with Alonso again on the podium.

Verstappen claimed the fastest lap of the race on the final lap to ensure he maintains the championship lead.

Russell was 5.1s behind Alonso, who had a penalty hanging over him for reasons that were unclear – though the Spaniard was clear even should a five-second penalty come his way.

Results: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Pos Num Driver Team Laps/Diff
1 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull 50
2 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 5.355
3 63 George Russell Mercedes 25.866
4 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 30.728
5 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 31.065
6 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 35.876
7 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 43.162
8 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 52.832
9 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine 54.747
10 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 64.826
11 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri 67.494
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 70.588
13 24 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Sauber 76.06
14 21 Nyck de Vries Scuderia AlphaTauri 77.478
15 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren 85.021
16 2 Logan Sargeant Williams 86.293
17 4 Lando Norris McLaren 86.445
18 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Sauber 1L
23 Alex Albon Williams 23L
18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 34L

Drivers’ Championship

Pos Driver Points
1 Max Verstappen 44
2 Sergio Perez 43
3 Fernando Alonso 27
4 George Russell 21
5 Carlos Sainz 20
Lewis Hamilton 20
7 Lance Stroll 8
8 Charles Leclerc 6
9 Esteban Ocon 4
Valtteri Bottas 4
Pierre Gasly 4
12 Kevin Magnussen 1
13 Alex Albon 1
14 Nico Hulkenberg 0
Logan Sargeant 0
Nyck de Vries 0
Guanyu Zhou 0
Lando Norris 0
Oscar Piastri 0
Yuki Tsunoda 0

Constructors’ Championship

Pos Team Points
1 Red Bull 87
2 Mercedes 41
3 Aston Martin 35
4 Ferrari 26
5 Alpine 8
6 Alfa Romeo Sauber 4
7 Haas 1
Williams 1
9 McLaren 0
Scuderia AlphaTauri 0

Join the discussion below in the comments section

Please note: reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]