Verstappen and Red Bull dominate Saudi Arabian GP

Max Verstappen led another comfortable Red Bull Racing one-two after dominating the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Verstappen lost the lead only during the first pit stop window, caused by Lance Stroll breaking his left-front suspension with a tap of the apex barrier at Turn 22, sending him careering into the barriers on the opposite side of the circuit. The ensuing safety car triggered all but four remaining drivers to make their sole mandatory pit stops for the hard tire, which could comfortably make it to the end of the 50-lap grand prix.

Lando Norris inherited the lead ahead of Verstappen, but it was never going to last. After bringing his tires up to temperature for a long final stint, the reigning champion made quick work of the McLaren on lap 13, after which he was never sighted on the way to his 100th grand prix podium.


“Overall, of course a fantastic weekend for the whole team but also for myself,” he said. “I felt really good in the car.

“We had good pace all around and we could manage it quite well with the gap also. Overall I’m very, very pleased.”

Verstappen also claimed Red Bull Racing’s 115th victory, taking the team one past Williams on the list of constructors winners to outright third behind Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes.

Sergio Perez had been running second before the safety car intervention but lost two places stacking behind Verstappen. He dropped to fourth behind Norris and Lewis Hamilton, who had also stayed out, and took eight laps to pass both, enough to put him out of touch with Verstappen after resuming one-two formation.

His pace was great enough to completely negate a five-second penalty levied for an unsafe release ahead of Fernando Alonso in the hectic pit lane during the first stop window.

“We definitely made good progress,” Perez said. “It was quite a compromised race with the safety car there so early.

“Overall it’s a great day for the team. It’s a very different track to Bahrain and we keep being strong. We just have to keep this momentum going.”

Charles Leclerc started from the front row, but the RB20’s superior straight-line speed had Perez through after only four laps.

The Monegasque followed the Mexican back up into the podium places after the safety car but was no match for him, and he finished 10 seconds behind the leading two at the flag before Perez’s penalty was applied. Leclerc also picked up a bonus point for fastest lap

“Overall the feeling was pretty good,” he said. “It was a bit of a boring race, because Red Bull was a bit too quick and behind we had a bit of a gap, but we took the maximum points we could today, and that was the target, so that was great.”

Oscar Piastri appeared to have the pace to duel with Leclerc for the final podium place but couldn’t follow the Ferrari past Hamilton despite the tire offset.

Hamilton’s Mercedes had significantly better straight-line speed than the McLaren, with even Piastri’s DRS doing little to get him to within striking distance.

It took Hamilton making his eventual stop on lap 36 for Piastri to get through after several failed attempts at the first chicane, but by then he was 10s behind the Russell, locking him into fourth place.

Fernando Alonso finished fifth after a long race defending ahead of George Russell.

Oliver Bearman finished a sensational seventh on debut for Ferrari, gaining four places on his starting position and fending off Norris and Hamilton on faster tires at the end of the race.

The Briton was called up to replace Carlos Sainz, who was suffering appendicitis, shortly before final practice but held himself well in the grand prix, making few mistakes and never appearing overwhelmed by his sudden chance at one of the calendar’s most testing circuits.

Norris and Hamilton pitted late for fresh softs but couldn’t extract the expected pace from the red-marked tires, finishing eighth and ninth.

Nico Hulkenberg scored the final point after an excellent exercise in teamwork at Haas. Hulkenberg had stayed out during the safety car while teammate Kevin Magnussen pitted, but the Dane rapidly accumulated 20 seconds of penalties, one for causing a collision with Alex Albon and another for passing Yuki Tsunoda off the track.

The team switch him to a defensive strategy, using him to hold up the midfield with some superb defensive driving to build a gap into which Hulkenberg could pit on lap 33. The German rejoined the race in net 10th place, just 2.3s ahead of the relentless Magnussen, to collect Haas’s first point of the year.

Magnussen dropped to 12th after his penalties, promoting Alex Albon to 11th ahead of Esteban Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda in 13th and 14th after a tight race-long duel between the trio.

Logan Sargeant finished ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, whose race was undone by a super long stop that left him trailing far behind the safety car pack early in the race, and Sauber teammates Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu at the back of the pack.

Pierre Gasly was the race’s only other retirement, pitting at the end of the first lap with a suspected gearbox problem.

Story originally appeared on Racer