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Max Verstappen

Verstappen beats Leclerc to victory after epic late-race fight

Red Bull's Max Verstappen has come out on top after a tremendous scrap with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Verstappen Sainz Saudi Start 2022
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

Max Verstappen has bounced back from the disappointment of his Bahrain Grand Prix retirement to claim victory in Saudi Arabia.

Red Bull driver Verstappen emerged on top after a terrific scrap with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in the closing stages of the race, with the Monegasque having led the middle stint after a fortunately-timed Safety Car that took pole-sitter Sergio Perez out of contention.

Perez had led the first 15 laps convincingly, but the appearance of Ferrari in the pit lane on Lap 15 of 50 appeared to trigger Red Bull to bring him in from the lead in response. Just seconds later, Williams' Nicholas Latifi crashed into the barriers, with the Safety Car deployed as a result.

This allowed Leclerc to pit without losing as much time, resulting in him taking the lead ahead of Verstappen and Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz.

The race settled down for the next 20 laps or so, with a frustrated Perez in fourth forced to watch on as Leclerc and Verstappen streaked away at the front.

Result Race - Saudi Arabian

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The race comes alive in the closing stages

But the race was thrown into chaos with 13 laps remaining, as Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren broke down on the approach to the pit lane. Reporting no drive, his car was stuck in the entrance lane to the pits and, oddly, he was joined on the sidelines moments later as Alpine's Fernando Alonso slowed to a crawl just metres in front of him.

With the pit lane closed due to the blockages, the leaders were unable to pit to get rid of their old tyres.

The race resumed with nine laps to go, with Verstappen immediately latching onto the back of Leclerc and passing the Ferrari into the final corner. But Verstappen's early move handed Leclerc the DRS for the pit straight and he was left to watch the Ferrari sail past again into the first corner.

A lap later, Verstappen had the DRS down the back straight and, rather than passing Leclerc into the final corner, slammed on the brakes. Leclerc, astonishingly, did the same, but the Ferrari driver emerged with a slightly bigger lead as they began the following lap.

Verstappen took a few laps to regroup, creeping back into DRS range as the laps ticked by. Eventually, Verstappen spotted his opportunity as he closed up to get alongside the Ferrari down the back straight.

Having learned from his previous attempts, Verstappen backed off more into the final corner and, this time, took the lead into Turn 1 and began streaking away from the Ferrari.

Leclerc was able to hang on to stay within DRS range of Verstappen, but he never quite managed to launch another attack.

Verstappen thus crossed the line to claim the win, ahead of Leclerc, as the latter got on the radio to express his congratulations.

Sainz came home in third and seven seconds behind the leading duo, with Perez finishing fourth.

Mercedes salvage points after another tough weekend

George Russell led the Mercedes charge in fifth, with Lewis Hamilton missing out on a stronger points finish as he came home in 10th.

The seven-time World Champion had been in sixth after starting on the Hard tyres, but was caught out by the closed pit lane that forced him to delay his stop until the action resumed.

Alpine's Esteban Ocon was sixth, having been involved in a tremendous scrap with teammate Alonso before the Spaniard's retirement, with Lando Norris claiming McLaren's first points of the season in seventh place.

AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly finished eighth, with Haas' Kevin Magnussen in ninth.

Along with Ricciardo, Alonso and Latifi's retirements, Williams' Alex Albon retired late in the race, while Alfa Romeo withdrew Valtteri Bottas with 14 laps remaining.

Yuki Tsunoda did not start, due to an apparent engine issue on his AlphaTauri on the way to the grid. Mick Schumacher also watched on from the sidelines after his heavy qualifying crash.

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F1 2022 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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