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Formula 1 Saudi Arabian GP

F1 Saudi Arabian GP: Verstappen heads dominant Red Bull 1-2, Bearman seventh

Max Verstappen dominated Formula 1’s 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, leading a Red Bull 1-2 ahead of Sergio Perez, with Charles Leclerc third for Ferrari.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, leads Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB20, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38, and the rest of the field at the start

An early crash for Lance Stroll meant Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton were a factor in the lead fight after a brief safety car period where they stayed out and did not pit, but they eventually finished in the pack behind Ferrari debutant Oliver Bearman.

At the start, Verstappen and Leclerc launched in unison from the front row, with the polesitting Red Bull driver soon swinging across his rival on the run to Turn 1, where Perez - having got a better getaway from third - attacked Leclerc.

The Ferrari was behind the second Red Bull going into the opening complex but Leclerc fought hard to stay alongside and retook second at Turn 4.

He briefly looked as if he had the pace to keep with Verstappen even without DRS once it was activated on lap two of 50 but, although Perez dropped back from Leclerc on that tour, he stayed close enough that the next time by the pit straight he blasted by with DRS into Turn 1.

But, before the race could settle down, Stroll crashed his Aston Martin on lap seven after hitting the inside wall at Turn 22 and going straight on into the barriers outside Turn 23, which meant the safety car was called into action.

All the frontrunners pitted to exchange their starting mediums for hards, with Red Bull able to doublestack its cars and maintain track position over Leclerc, who in any case had the longest stop as Oscar Piastri and Fernando Alonso briefly came by.

Due to having two cars running close together in the pack, McLaren and Mercedes had to leave Norris and Hamilton out at this stage, which meant the former cycled through to lead Verstappen in the safety car queue, with Hamilton behind and followed by Perez and Leclerc.

The race restarted on lap 10, with Norris scampering clear of Verstappen as the hard tyres took a while to warm up on the Red Bull.

He held out until the start of lap 13, with Verstappen boosted so much with DRS he was almost ahead as the pair flashed by the finish line at the back of the grid, with the Dutchman’s move back to first place a formality at Turn 1.

Behind, Perez passed Hamilton at that spot, with Leclerc taking two more tours to do likewise with a battling move on Turn 1’s outside.

As Verstappen shot clear, Perez finally breezed past Norris with DRS down the main straight at the start of lap 18, by which point he was over five seconds behind his team-mate and saddled with a 5s penalty for an unsafe release in front of Alonso during the safety car stops phase.

As the race approached the halfway stage, with the two Red Bulls gone in the lead, Norris was able to stay clear of Leclerc – boosted by the stewards clearing him of a possible jumped start.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

The McLaren's mediums continued to slowly fade as Norris fell back from Perez, with Leclerc finally getting back up to third with an easy DRS pass towards Turn 1 at the start of lap 27.

As the race entered its final 20 laps, Verstappen led Perez by 7.3s – a gap he extended to 8.6s in a lifeless end to proceedings, other than the leader losing a little bit of time lapping the backmarkers before pushing hard on the final lap to end the race with a personal best time.

Leclerc, similarly, dropped 8.4s behind Perez by the time he finally repassed Norris, a gap that increased to 9.9s behind at the flag, which meant Perez’s pitlane penalty meant nothing to his result, although Leclerc was able to snaffle the fastest lap bonus point with a lap just 0.1s faster than Verstappen’s effort on the final tour.

Norris finally stopped for soft tyres on lap 37, rejoining after a slightly slow stop due to a delayed right rear change just in front of Hamilton in eighth and ninth – Hamilton having stopped for the same rubber the lap before.

They faced a 6s gap to close to Bearman ahead, who had battled by Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg in the early stages before running behind Mercedes’ George Russell from there.

Hamilton, who had held off Piastri for most of the race before he finally stopped, closed in on Norris and several times looked for a speculative move at Turn 1, where Norris was handed a black-and-white warning flag for weaving in front on Hamilton as the final 10 laps kicked off.

They ran out of time to catch Bearman’s seventh place, with the 18-year-old maintaining a 2.7s gap to Norris by the flag.

Piastri ran solo in fourth, with Alonso a chunk behind in fifth and Russell chasing on a similar margin behind the Spaniard.

Hulkenberg scored the final point by staying out under the safety car then, with the twice-penalised Kevin Magnussen holding up the pack behind in the other Haas, he was able to stay clear and take 10th.

The other retirement was Pierre Gasly, who completed just four laps before stopping in the pits, having reported a gearbox problem on his Alpine ahead of the start.

Saudi Arabian GP result:

Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval km/h Pits Points Retirement Chassis Engine
1 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 50


    1 25   Red Bull Red Bull
2 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 50



13.643   1 18   Red Bull Red Bull
3 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 50



4.996   1 16   Ferrari Ferrari
4 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 50



13.368   1 12   McLaren Mercedes
5 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 50



3.752   1 10   Aston Martin Mercedes
6 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 50



4.177   1 8   Mercedes Mercedes
7 United Kingdom O. Bearman Ferrari 38 50



2.743   1 6   Ferrari Ferrari
8 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 50



3.029   1 4   McLaren Mercedes
9 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 50



1.683   1 2   Mercedes Mercedes
10 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 50



29.605   1 1   Haas Ferrari
11 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 50



11.358   1     Williams Mercedes
12 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 50



17.383   1     Haas Ferrari
13 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 49

1 lap

    1     Alpine Renault
14 Japan Y. Tsunoda RB 22 49

1 lap

    1     RB Red Bull
15 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 49

1 lap

    1     Williams Mercedes
16 Australia D. Ricciardo RB 3 49

1 lap

    1     RB Red Bull
17 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 49

1 lap

    2     Sauber Ferrari
18 China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 49

1 lap

    1     Sauber Ferrari
dnf Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 5


        Accident Aston Martin Mercedes
dnf France P. Gasly Alpine 10 1


    1   Retirement Alpine Renault

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