SAUDI ARABIA: Mexican driver Sergio Perez triumphed over his Red Bull teammate, reigning world champion Max Verstappen, at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, on Sunday.
Perez displayed his skill on street circuits, regaining the lead on Lap 4 and crossing the finish line six seconds ahead of Verstappen. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso completed the podium in third place.
Verstappen’s troubles with reliability continued ahead of the race, with Red Bull fitting his RB19 with the Bahrain driveshaft after he reported a slippery pedal with fluid leaking onto it on his out-lap to the grid. The reigning world champion started in P15, while his teammate Perez took the pole position.
Alonso briefly took the lead at the start of the race, but Perez soon regained the lead. Russell was up to third, while Lance Stroll of Aston Martin passed Carlos Sainz for P4.
After the skirmishes of the first lap, Verstappen climbed up to thirteenth, with Lewis Hamilton up one place to seventh. Charles Leclerc of Ferrari had an excellent start and jumped from twelfth to ninth.
Leclerc soon took P7 off Hamilton after passing Pierre Gasly. Verstappen passed Pierre Gasly to close in on Hamilton’s rear wing. Stroll was the first of the top ten to pit, followed by Gasly, Sainz, and Leclerc.
The Ferraris overtook Stroll, but a mechanical issue forced the Canadian driver to retire from the race. The race director hastily deployed the safety car, and Perez, Alonso, Russell, and Verstappen kept their positions intact after the pit stops.
The race resumed on Lap 21, with Perez driving off into the distance as Alonso moved to cover off Russell, and Hamilton overtook Sainz to climb to P5.
With DRS enabled on Lap 24, Verstappen shot past Russell and then Alonso to put his RB19 into P2.
Meanwhile, Perez reported brake pedal issues, and Verstappen complained that the “driveshaft feels a bit rough.”
However, Red Bull instructed Perez to continue pushing, and he crossed the finish line ahead of Verstappen, securing Red Bull’s second 1-2 finish in as many races. With the fastest lap point, Verstappen retained his lead in the world championship by one point ahead of Perez, with Alonso in third place.
The win in Jeddah marked Perez’s fifth career win and his first at the Saudi Arabian GP. The Mexican driver previously raced for Racing Point and has a history of excelling on street circuits.
With his win, Perez helped Red Bull to consolidate its lead in the constructors’ standings. The team now holds a 49-point advantage over Aston Martin after just two races in the season.
A brief drama ensued after the podium celebrations when the FIA gave Fernando Alonso a 10-second time penalty after the race for not serving an earlier 5-second time penalty properly, stripping him of 3rd place in the process.
However, Aston Martin appealed against the penalty successfully, and the FIA reinstated Alonso to P3.
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