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Is this the start of something special for Sergio Perez? The Mexican won the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in another Red Bull 1-2.
Saudi Arabia Grand Prix Final Standings: Who Won the Race
Sergio Perez won the F1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix from pole, leading home teammate Max Verstappen. After briefly taking the lead at the start, Fernando Alonso finished third and scored back-to-back podiums for Aston Martin. It also marked the Spaniard’s 100th career top 3 finish.
Update: Alonso picked up a ten-second penalty post-race for an incorrect procedure during his first pit stop. The Spaniard dropped to fourth, with George Russell promoted to third place. The Spaniard is back to 99 podium finishes.
Update 2: After further review and an in-person meeting with Aston Martin’s representatives, the FIA rescinded Alonso’s penalty. The British team argued that its mechanics had not begun working on the car before the five-second mark, which was later accepted by the FIA. Alonso recovers his third place finish and has now officially reached the 100-podium mark.
Thanks to a last-effort fastest lap, Verstappen remains at the top of the standings, exactly one point ahead of his teammate. Could we be looking at an intra-team battle for the championship?
Alonso had better traction than Perez off the line and passed the Mexican for the lead into turn 1. But not soon after, race control had the two-time champion under investigation for lining up incorrectly on the grid. And sure enough, the Spaniard picked up a five-second penalty soon after.
Stroll got past Sainz for fourth, then pulled off a beautiful defense around the outside of turn 13. Further down the order, Verstappen climbed up to 13th from 15th. Leclerc, the only driver to start on softs, got himself into the top 10 from 12th. Ocon and Piastri had a run-in, with the Australian rookie picking up front wing damage.
Perez reeled Alonso in to set up an overtake on lap 3 and moved back into the lead. Despite this, the Aston Martin driver remained within DRS range for a few laps. However, the Red Bull’s superior tyre management proved to be a massive advantage, and the Mexican eventually stretched the margin to over five seconds.
Stroll’s Mechanical Issue Leads to an Early Safety Car, Verstappen Continues His Climb
Leclerc and Verstappen continued to climb up the order, moving to fourth and fifth respectively as Stroll and Sainz pitted for new tyres.
On lap 18, the Canadian stopped on track with a mechanical issue, leading to a Safety Car intervention. The rest of the field took the opportunity to pit. Alonso managed to retain his position despite serving out the five-second penalty.
Verstappen benefited from pitting under the SC, moving up to fourth. Leclerc, on the other hand, lost his position to Hamilton, dropping down to seventh.
The positions remained largely unchanged at the restart on lap 20, with Perez leading Alonso, Russell, Verstappen, Sainz, Hamilton and Leclerc.
As the only driver running on mediums, Hamilton took advantage of the slightly softer compound and moved past the hard-shod Ferrari of Sainz for fifth place.
With the field packed up and DRS enabled once again, Verstappen continued to pick the field apart. The reigning champion got past Russell and Alonso on back-to-back laps, moving into second place.
Albon ended up as the race’s second retirement, as the Thai driver’s Williams suddenly ran into brake problems.
Perez Controls the Gap to Win
Perez and Verstappen exchanged tenths back-and-forth, with the Mexican successfully keeping the margin at around five seconds. Hamilton, who had reeled Russell in, could not find a way around his teammate. As the medium tyres fell off, the seven-time champion dropped away, with the positions remaining unchanged.
Ferrari struggled to generate pace, and then again with excessive tyre wear. Sainz and Leclerc remained in sixth and seventh, leading to the Monegasque complaining about the Scuderia’s car.
Verstappen radiohead in to complain about the driveshaft, while Perez reported a long brake pedal. Despite this, the two RB19’s continued to drive away from the rest of the field. The gap between the two dropped to a bit over four seconds, but the Mexican remained in complete control.
The Red Bulls eventually settled into “Multi 21” mode, and Perez stretched the gap back to six seconds. Magnussen pulled off a move into Yuki Tsunoda for the final points-paying position, leading to another expletive over the radio from the AlphaTauri driver.
Perez crossed the line with a 5.355s gap over his teammate. But Verstappen still had something left in the tank, setting the fastest lap to retain the championship lead. Alonso crossed the line third, but lost the podium spot after a 10-second penalty. Aston Martin started working on his car too early during the first stop, incorretly serving the first penalty and consequently picking up an additional one.
A post-race protest by Aston Martin was later accepted by the FIA, leading to Alonso’s penalty being overturned and the Spaniard recovering his third-place finish.
Russell, Hamilton, Sainz, Leclerc, Ocon, Gasly and Magnussen completed the top 10.
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