Max Verstappen is the winner of the second race of the season in Saudi Arabia after he managed to overtake Charles Leclerc in Ferrari in a fantastic race to the finish while Carlos Sainz completed the podium for Ferrari.
Leclerc took the lead in the race after changing tyres after Perez was the only leading driver to change tyres in normal racing conditions, and the rest did so during the safety car that emerged after Latifi chrashed in lap 16.
The Ferrari driver led until the last few laps when Verstappen launched several attacks, but Leclerc managed to fight back because he had the DRS in the main straight.
The duo continued to battle and both tried to stay behind the detection point on the brakes for the last corner to have the DRS on the main straight, and Verstappen made a decisive move four laps before the end and overtook Leclerc on the main straight.
Leclerc set the fastest lap and won an extra point and Sainz could not keep up with the rhythm of the leading duo and had to settle for third place.
Perez is the biggest loser of the leading drivers because he lost the lead when changing tyres and after a restart he had to return the position to Sainz because the Spaniard was ahead of him at the safety car line.
Perez got off to a great start and kept the lead ahead of Leclerc and Verstappen overtook Sainz from outside the Turn 2 while Magnussen on hard tyres managed to overtake Gasly in the AlphaTauri.
Most of the drivers decided to start the race on mediums except Magnussen, Hamilton, Ricciard and Hulkenberg who opted for uset set of hards.
Alpine drivers Alonso and Ocon gave us the most excitement in the first phase of the race after several changes of positions, but Alonso eventually emerged as the winner of that duel.
Perez entered the pits first in lap 15 and changed the medium for hard, but Latifi chrashed in the last corner in the next lap and triggered a safety car that gave drivers a chance to change tyres with less time loss than in normal racing conditions.
Leclerc took advantage of this to take the lead, Verstappen was second and Perez third after Sainz came back right behind him after a tyre change.
Sainz complained to the team that Perez was behind him at the safety car line and that he had to regain his position, which happened after the restart of the race in which Leclerc kept the lead ahead of Verstappen.
At the time, everyone was on hard tyres with Hamilton, Magnussen and Hulkenberg had not yet done their tyre change since they started on hard.
The race then entered a calmer phase, but a series of retirements was started by Alonso, who had a power unit issue, and soon a similar fate was waiting Ricciardo and Bottas.
This caused virtual safety car conditions that Magnussen and Hulkenberg took advantage of made their pitstops, but Hamilton was late and could not make a tyre change until the VSC period ended in lap 41.
Verstappen attacked Leclerc at the end of the lap 42 before braking for the last turn, but Leclerc hit back in the 43rd lap on the starting finish line because he had DRS as he was behind Verstappen at the detection point just before the last turn.
Verstappen tried to stay behind Leclerc for the second time in the same spot, but the Ferrari driver read his intention and also deliberately slowed down further with the same intention while both locked the front wheels.
The Dutchman had the DRS in the main straight, but due to a worse exit he did not have a chance to attack before the first turn.
But in lap 46 Verstappen stays close to Leclerc ahead of the last turn, which gave him the DRS on the main course at the start of lap 47 and overtakes Leclerc for the lead in the race.
Leclerc stayed close to Verstappen, drove the fastest lap and tried to fight back, but did not have enough speed on the straight to overtake him.
Verstappen achieved a key victory as he scored no points in the first race after a late fuel system failure while Leclerc and Sainz completed the podium for Ferrari.
Perez has the most reason to be disappointed in fourth place and Russell had a rather lonely race for Mercedes that he finished in fifth place.
Ocon finished sixth for Alpine after a late battle with Norris nearly overtaking him before the finish line, but will ultimately be pleased with seventh place given McLaren’s form at the start of the season.
Gasly scored four points for AlphaTauri in eighth place after Tsunoda failed to even start due to technical problems and Magnussen again scored points for Haas in ninth place.
Hamilton battled his way through from 15th place at the start and had a good chance to achieve a good result, but a missed opportunity to make a tyre change behind the VSC prevented him from finishing in a better position than tenth.
The next race will take place in two weeks in Australia at the modified Albert Park.
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||50||1:24:19.293|
|3||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||50||1:24:27.390||8.097|
|4||11||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||50||1:24:30.093||10.800|
|8||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri/Red Bull||50||1:25:22.239||1:02.946|
|11||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||50||1:25:41.508||1:22.215|
|12||27||Nico Hülkenberg||Aston Martin/Mercedes||50||1:25:51.035||1:31.742|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin/Mercedes||49||–||1 lap|
|14||23||Alexander Albon||Williams/Mercedes||47||–||Not running|
|77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||36||–||Retirement|
|22||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri/Red Bull||0||–||Not started|
Fastest lap: Charles Leclerc – 1:31.634 (lap 48)
DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER 2/22 RACES
|2||Carlos Sainz Jr.||33||18||15|