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Verstappen: We decided to 'call it a day' in Perez Saudi chase

Max Verstappen says he realised he could not catch Sergio Perez and decided to call off the fight for the win in Saudi Arabia.

Max Verstappen says he decided to "call it a day" in his Formula 1 pursuit of Sergio Perez in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - settling for second. Following his 15th place start, Verstappen was running inside the Top 5 when the Safety Car was deployed for Lance Stroll's retirement, allowing him a free pitstop for the change to Hard tyres. Restarting fourth, Verstappen quickly cleared George Russell and Fernando Alonso to run second on Lap 25, by which time Perez had bolted out front. The gap remained around the five second mark until the flag, although Verstappen did nick fastest lap on the final tour to maintain his championship lead by one point.

Verstappen settled for second

In claiming second - his first since the Austrian Grand Prix - Verstappen secured Red Bull their third straight one-two finish, stretching back to Abu Dhabi 2022. When asked post-race about his race, the two-time World Champion admitted he and the team decided Perez was too far ahead. "I was in second, we had a big gap behind and so at one point, we decided to just let's say, call it a day and just settle for second," he explained. "Anyway, it was a good recovery. I gave [fastest lap] a go at the end, and luckily it worked out." The Dutchman scythed through the field, but admitted that it was not easy, despite Red Bull holding a pace advantage of over one second per lap over the chasing pack. "It wasn't very easy to get through the field, I mean in the beginning of the race, it was very difficult, a lot of sliding around, but once I cleared them one by one, we got into a good rhythm, and of course, I'm very happy to be on the podium."

RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix