Home Sport Verstappen continues winning streak in one-two for Red Bull in Saudi Arabia

Verstappen continues winning streak in one-two for Red Bull in Saudi Arabia

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It was the first time Verstappen, winner of a record 19 of 22 races last year, has won the first two races of a season. He has also won 19 of the last 20.

Red Bull Racing’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen (right) and Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton compete during the Saudi Arabian Formula One Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Jeddah on March 9, 2024. Picture: JOSEPH EID, AFP

Pesha Magid, in JEDDAH – Max Verstappen won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from pole position on Saturday as Red Bull continued their dominant start to the Formula One season with a second one-two in as many races.

Sergio Perez was runner-up under the Jeddah Corniche floodlights, last year’s winner taking the chequered flag 13.643 seconds behind his triple world champion teammate who now has a 15 point lead in the standings.

Charles Leclerc finished third for Ferrari, also setting the fastest lap on the way to his first podium of the season, but rookie stand-in teammate Oliver Bearman stole the show — finishing seventh and voted Driver of the Day.

It was the first time Verstappen, winner of a record 19 of 22 races last year, has won the first two races of a season. He has also won 19 of the last 20.

“Overall, a fantastic weekend for the whole team and myself. I felt really good with the car and it was the same in the race,” Verstappen said.

The victory was a ninth in a row for Verstappen, dating back to Japan last September, and 56th of the 26-year-old Dutch driver’s career.

It was also his 100th career podium while Red Bull’s 115th win lifted them ahead of Williams in fourth place on the all-time lists.

“Max was clinical in his execution of that race,” said team boss Christian Horner.

Bearman was ‘incredible’

Britain’s Bearman, making his F1 race debut at 18 years and 305 days old, started in 11th place as Ferrari’s youngest rookie and was a hugely impressive replacement for Spaniard Carlos Sainz, sidelined by appendicitis.00:37

The youngest ever British Formula One driver was also the 66th driver since the start of the championship in 1950 to score on his debut.

Sainz, who underwent surgery on Friday, was back at the track – walking gingerly – to watch his stand-in’s extraordinary day of glory.

“Today he’s been incredible,” said Leclerc of Bearman. “It’s hugely impressive and I’m sure he’s extremely proud. Everybody has noticed how talented he is and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before he’s in F1.”

Oscar Piastri was fourth for McLaren, with Fernando Alonso fifth for Aston Martin and George Russell sixth for Mercedes and the first of four British drivers following each other across the line.

McLaren’s Lando Norris was eighth and seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton ninth for Mercedes with Nico Hulkenberg taking the final point for last year’s bottom team Haas.

The safety car was deployed on lap seven after Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll hit the wall and then crashed into the barriers at turn 22.

The Canadian walked away unhurt as all but four drivers, including Norris and Hamilton, dived into the pits.

Norris, who was later cleared of a suspected jumped start off the grid, led when the new Aston Martin Vantage safety car returned to the pits on lap 9 but Verstappen was back in front by lap 13 and pulling away.

Perez was handed a five-second penalty for an unsafe release from his first pitstop and Haas’s Kevin Magnussen collected a 10-second penalty for causing a collision with Williams’ Alex Albon.

The Dane was later handed another 10 second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage but his main role was to create a sufficient gap behind Hulkenberg for the German to be able to pit and still finish with a precious point.

Alpine’s Pierre Gasly was told to pit and park on the opening lap due to a suspected gearbox issue, becoming the first retirement of the season after all 20 cars finished the opener in Bahrain a week earlier.

Red Bull now have 87 points with Ferrari on 49 and McLaren on 28. The next race is the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 24.

Reuters

Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond

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