SUNDAY, February 25, 2024

Verstappen edges Leclerc in F1 Saudi Arabia GP win

Verstappen edges Leclerc in F1 Saudi Arabia GP win

Red Bull's Max Verstappen edged Ferrari's Charles Leclerc by 0.5 seconds to win the F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu finishing in 11th place.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen passed Ferrari's Charles Leclerc with four laps to go to win the F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

For the second race in a row, Verstappen and Leclerc spent several laps duelling for the lead, and swapped positions as they sought to use the DRS overtaking zones to their advantage.

Though Leclerc did his best to come back at Verstappen on the final lap, the Dutchman held on to win an enthralling race by just 0.5 seconds.

Valtteri Bottas leads Kevin Magnussen, Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris in the opening stages of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. (DPPI/Handout via Xinhua)

"It was really tough but a good race," Verstappen said. "We were battling hard at the front and we just tried to play the long game."

"It wasn't easy playing smart tricks in the last corner, but eventually I managed to get ahead."

Despite having lost out to Verstappen, Leclerc still leads the Drivers' Championship following his win in Bahrain last week, and was magnanimous in defeat.

"I really enjoyed that race," said Leclerc, who also took home the bonus point for fastest lap. "It's hard racing but fair. Every race should be like this. It was fun, I'm of course disappointed, we wanted to win today."

"The new regulations [aimed at making it easier to follow closely behind other cars] are definitely working. The second to last straight I was just part-throttle trying for Max to overtake me and for me to have the DRS. It worked once. Then the second time he understood so he braked very early and it was a bit of a mess."

"It was fun, I liked racing like this and it was much easier to follow than I initially thought."

Behind the top two, Leclerc's teammate Carlos Sainz took third place, ahead of Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez, who had led the field away from his pole position, but dropped back after an unfortunately-timed Safety Car period saw him lose time to his rivals.

Red Bull

George Russell took fifth place in his Mercedes, followed by Alpine's Esteban Ocon, who just held off the charging McLaren of Lando Norris on the run to the finish line.

Pierre Gasly finished eighth for AlphaTauri ahead of Haas's Kevin Magnussen, with Lewis Hamilton salvaging tenth place for Mercedes after having qualified 15th.

China's Zhou Guanyu just failed to finish in the points, coming home 11th after dropping to the back of the field following a poor start.

Leclerc leads the Drivers' Championship with 45 points, ahead of Sainz on 33 and Verstappen with 25.

In the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari lead the way with 78 points, with Mercedes second on 38, just ahead of Red Bull with 37.

The third round of the 2022 F1 season is the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne's Albert Park on April 10.

Alfa Romeo