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Why Verstappen expects a closer fight in Saudi

Max Verstappen may have won the Bahrain Grand Prix at a canter, but the Dutchman feels the chasing pack will be closer at the following race in Saudi Arabia.

Max Verstappen says he expects the rest of the field to be closer to Red Bull at the upcoming Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah. Verstappen led Sergio Perez home in a dominant 1-2 for the team in Bahrain, prompting several competitors to issue downbeat assessments of their prospects relative to the drinks-backed squad. After finishing 50 seconds behind the Red Bulls in fifth, Lewis Hamilton noted that Mercedes' gap to the front was huge , while teammate George Russell made the bold prediction that Red Bull could win every race in 2023 , such was their advantage in Bahrain. But despite having started the season in such an ominous manner, Verstappen said he did not expect to be so far ahead at every race this season, adding that the different characteristics of the Jeddah Street Circuit could bring rivals into play. "Saudi is quite a different track to [Bahrain]," Verstappen told media, including RacingNews365.com . "You have a lot more straights, fast corners, and a lot less deg[radation]. "I think here we were particularly good on the deg, so I do expect in terms of race pace that everyone is closer in Jeddah."

Verstappen's first season-opening win

Having retired from the corresponding race in 2022, Verstappen's win on Sunday represented the first time in his F1 career that he has claimed victory at the first Grand Prix of a season. "It has been a great start for us, for the for the whole team," said the Dutchman. "This is not something we were used to! So we are very happy at the moment, but we always keep working."

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Qualifying