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Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19
Autosport Plus
Formula 1 Saudi Arabian GP
Analysis

How Perez kept Verstappen’s Saudi Arabian GP surge at bay

On paper the 2023 Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will read as another Red Bull domination, but both Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen had to do it the hard way to engage their victory duel. The Dutchman’s untimely breakdown in qualifying proved decisive, while his team-mate showed his mettle, but it was overshadowed by the FIA-led podium hokey-cokey for Fernando Alonso

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“You might as well start writing your report now, mate,” mutters Autosport F1 editor Matt Kew on the return from trackside wandering, as Max Verstappen flashes up on the paddock screens having eclipsed the rest of the field in FP1 by nearly half a second. Benched for Thursday’s media sessions after battling a stomach bug, Verstappen rocked up to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit fashionably late and fired off a trio of hammer blows to the rest of the field by headlining the full set of practice sessions. Few in the paddock had any optimism that the race would be anything other than a foregone conclusion and yet, somehow, fate had its own funny way of intervening.

Come the end of Sunday’s race, Sergio Perez is the man standing on the middle step of the podium having largely dominated proceedings in Saudi Arabia, while Red Bull team-mate Verstappen had to dip into his back catalogue and perform a sterling recovery drive to rescue second after a mechanical issue knocked the wind from his sails in qualifying.

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