World champion Verstappen achieves his first victory of the season

Formula 1 F1 – Saudi Grand Prix – Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – March 27, 2022 Red Bull Max Verstappen before the race REUTERS / Hamad I Mohammed

March 27, 2022

By Abhishek Takle

JEDDAH (Reuters) – Formula One champion Max Verstappen beat Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc four laps from the finish line to secure his first victory of the season at the Saudi Grand Prix on Sunday.

The 24-year-old, who had started fourth, crossed the line just half a second ahead of the Monegasque under the spotlight on Jeddah Corniche’s fast circuit, while Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was third.

The Italian team opened the season with a one-two last week in Bahrain and Sunday’s victory put Red Bull back in the game, tying a blank spot in Sakhir.

“A good race, we were fighting hard,” Verstappen said after securing his 21st win and the first points of the season.

“We just had to play the game long, the tires wore out pretty fast.

“It wasn’t easy, he finally managed to get ahead, very happy to start the season.”

Leclerc, who set the fastest lap, leads the overall standings by 12 points behind teammate Sainz with 21 races to go. Verstappen is 20 points behind third-placed Leclerc.

Ferrari continues to lead the constructors’ standings ahead of Mercedes, with Red Bull jumping to third place.

Leclerc and Verstappen ran second and third after the start.

Pole-sitter Sergio Pérez appeared to be in control of the race, but an unscheduled safety car, just after his pit stop, dropped him behind the Monegasque and his teammate Red Bull.

The Mexican lost another place when he was ordered to relinquish third place to Sainz, who had come out of the pits together but slightly ahead of the 32-year-old in safe car conditions.

Leclerc established a comfortable lead over Verstappen when the game started again, and seemed ready for a second consecutive victory.

But a virtual security car in the final laps gave life to the race.

Leclerc and Verstappen exchanged the lead several times as they both tried to be behind the other by turning on the long start and finish line in an attempt to benefit from the increased speed of the drag reduction system (DRS).

Eventually, Verstappen won the “Polo DRS” game and outscored his Ferrari rival in the 47 of 50 laps.

“It wasn’t enough today, but, my God, I really enjoyed that race!” said Leclerc.

“It was a tough but fair race, every race should be like this.”

George Russell placed fifth for the Mercedes champions.

Lewis Hamilton, winner of Saudi Arabia’s inaugural race last year, went from 15th to 10th to claim the end point.

Mick Schumacher did not start. The German was in a position to compete after a qualifying accident, but his Haas team withdrew his car to save parts.

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda stopped the attack on the way.

Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams out of the race’s only safety car, while Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas stopped in quick succession.

(Additional report by Alan Baldwin, Toby Davis Edition)

World champion Verstappen achieves his first victory of the season

Source link World champion Verstappen achieves his first victory of the season

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