Max Verstappen, now third in the standings after the opening two races, said he played the long game to win a 50-lap battle with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.
Jeddah – Formula One world champion Max Verstappen scored his first points of the season in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, bouncing back as a winner after Red Bull’s surprise blank in Bahrain the weekend before.
The 24-year-old, now third in the standings after the opening two races, said he played the long game to win a 50-lap battle with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
“I’m really happy that we finally kick-started the season,” said the Dutchman.
“Patience is always key,” added the driver, who started fourth on the grid with teammate Sergio Perez on pole position and moved up when a safety car period played against the Mexican.
“Especially when you want to fight for the championship, you always fight hard, but of course keep in mind that you need to score points, so that’s what we did today.
“We raced hard but we also wanted to score the points.”
How good is this season so far?! 🤩
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Verstappen was behind Leclerc in the final 10 laps at Jeddah’s Corniche circuit but had a DRS (drag reduction) advantage down the straight.
There was little to separate the Red Bull and championship leaders Ferrari through the race, with the new 2022 regulations helping produce closer competition.
“We saw it in Bahrain, we saw it here. There seems to be so little to choose between the two of us,” said Red Bull technical head Adrian Newey.
𝗧𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗣𝗵𝗼𝘁𝗼 📸 An outstanding effort from everyone at the track and on campus in Milton Keynes 👏
Let’s keep this up! 🏆 pic.twitter.com/fEzQelgXin
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“I guess it’s just going to be a big development war now, but a development war with one hand tied behind our backs because of the cost cap.
“Our season’s finally got off the mark after the disappointment of last weekend so it’s good to bounce back.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said it had been a really tough battle with Ferrari, who also had Carlos Sainz finish third.
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“They’ve got a great car, great drivers … if that’s what we’re set for for the rest of the season, it’s going to be epic,” added the Briton.
“We’ve got to keep winding the handle hard now because with such young, new regulations the steps are going to be big and fast and our opponents aren’t going to stand still.
“We’ve got to get development coming through to this car.”