Christian Horner has expressed his delight at the outcome of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, after Red Bull's Max Verstappen prevailed in an epic late-race fight with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.
Verstappen had stalked Leclerc patiently for some 25 laps following the first round of pit-stops, with the reigning World Champion stepping up his attack after a late Virtual Safety Car seemed to stop Leclerc's momentum out front.
With the pair engaging in some clever tactics as they hit the brakes approaching DRS detection lines, Horner laughed at the spectacle of seeing two racing drivers battle in such an unusual way.
"That DRS is so powerful down the straight that you can see neither driver wanted to get it," he told Sky Sports F1.
"They actually braked and accelerated back towards the corner, so what a great race!
"It was an exciting last few laps but, thankfully, we just had enough to bring it home."
It was Verstappen's patient approach to the long middle stint of the race that impressed Horner the most.
"It was a very patient race from Max," he said. "He looked after the tyres until the end of the race and then, after that last Safety Car (sic), he really went for it."
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Some consolation for Perez after losing early lead
While Verstappen won out after a long race on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, the Dutchman had been in teammate Sergio Perez's shadow in the early stages of the race.
Perez had led the first stint from pole position, pulling away from Leclerc until the first pit-stops approached.
But an apparent strategic bluff from Ferrari, as their crew emerged into the pit lane, was Perez's undoing. Pitting on Lap 15, his dive into the pits couldn't have been more badly timed as, just seconds later, the Safety Car was deployed due to Nicholas Latifi crashing his Williams.
This allowed Leclerc, Verstappen and Carlos Sainz to pit under the slower pace and come out ahead of Perez. From there, he was doomed to finish a frustrated fourth.
"He's driven brilliantly all weekend," Horner commiserated.
"I think he'll take a lot of confidence from it. He got that pole,and controlled the race, and he just got unlucky with his track position at the Safety Car, but stuff like that sometimes happens."
With Red Bull and Ferrari inseparable throughout the entire race, Horner is anticipating an intense battle for the season ahead.
"Ferrari have got a great car, and great drivers," he commented.
"It was a really tough battle today and, if that's what we're set for [for] the rest of the season, it is going to be epic."
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