Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: Sergio Perez wins and leads home another Red Bull double
Sergio Perez took a confident victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday, ahead of team-mate Max Verstappen, as Red Bull reaffirmed their dominance over their Formula 1 rivals with a second successive double of the season.
Perez started the race on pole position and took on a challenge from Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso who briefly took the lead at turn one before the Mexican regained his position on lap four.
But it was Verstappen’s performance that really underlined the pace and power of Red Bull’s car.
The Dutchman, who won the season opener in Bahrain two weeks ago, started 15th on the grid after a power problem in qualifying, but raced through the field to take second place behind Perez halfway through. course of the race.
The Red Bulls then withdrew from all their competition to secure the top two steps of the podium.
Alonso crossed the finish line in third – the 100th podium of his career – and celebrated accordingly.
However, the Spaniard was then demoted to fourth place, behind Mercedes’ George Russell, after stewards gave Alonso a 10-second penalty, determining that his Aston Martin team had started work on his car too soon in serving a previous time penalty.
“It turned out to be more difficult than expected,” Perez told Sky Sports in his post-race interview.
The team did a fantastic job. We had a lot of mechanical issues, and the guys stayed on top of that. We will continue to push hard. And the most important thing is that we have the fastest car.
There was drama from the very first rev in Jeddah as Alonso pulled away from Perez to take the race lead, but the Spaniard’s dream start was short-lived as officials told him inflicted a five-second penalty for poor grid position before the Mexican driver shouted the lead on lap four.
Alonso stayed within close distance of Perez for some time, nearly matching the speed of the Red Bull car and opening up an advantage over Russell.
Behind them, Verstappen began to work his way through the field, passing every car in front of him, even his old rival Lewis Hamilton who eventually finished fifth.
The race’s complexion changed when a safety car was deployed on lap 18 after Lance Stroll suffered a technical failure.
Alonso was among those who took the opportunity to go to the pits and served his five-second penalty at the same time, although the stewards ruled his Aston Martin team started working on his car a fraction seconds too early, resulting in a 10-second penalty. sadness.
“I was on the podium, I took pictures, I had the trophy, I celebrated with champagne,” Alonso told Sky Sports.
“You cannot apply the penalty 35 laps after the pit stop. They (the stewards) had enough time to inform us. If I had known about the penalty, I would have had 11 seconds with the car behind.
“They told me about the first 5 second pen and I left 7 or 8 seconds behind. In the second there was no information, not even an investigation.
After the safety car arrived, Perez rebuilt his lead beyond Verstappen’s reach and continued to press for victory.
It wasn’t all easy for Red Bull, however, as Verstappen anxiously signaled a potential mechanical problem over the radio towards the end of the race, but his car held on and even completed the fastest lap.
The point Verstappen earned by setting the fastest lap gives him a one-point lead over Perez in the Drivers’ Championship as F1 now looks to the Australian Grand Prix on April 2.