Perez won in Saudi Arabia at his second attempt, Alonso was deprived of the podium
Leclerc you were right
Before the start of the second race of the season, Red Bull boss Christian Horner was asked what the team would do if the race turned out to be a situation where Perez led and Verstappen finished second, if that would follow. the order from the boxes. Horner declined to answer, citing the fact that one still had to live first.
However, many remembered Belgium 2022 when Verstappen started 14th and won. Before the race, Horner clarified that the cause of the failure in qualifying was not the gearbox, but the transmission. However, in Saudi Arabia, Verstappen started 15th. And no one doubted that he would be on the podium. And here’s what to do with the victory, given that his teammate, Sergio Perez, could very well have taken the lead.
The events of the race proved Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc right in his words at this stage: Red Bull are now racing in their league, they are from another planet.
The judges went on principle
The start of the race was won by Fernando Alonso. And he even began to break away (as far as possible from the “Red Bull” in the current conditions). But the judges interrupted the beautiful story by inflicting a five-second penalty on the race leader for incorrect position on the starting grid. Alonso did not take advantage of this wrong position, but the judges went on principle, spoiling, as it turned out later, the race of the two-time world champion.
However, the status quo was soon restored and without penalty. Although Alonso hadn’t been seen leading the race for some time, after three laps Perez caught up with the Spaniard and, having taken the lead, began to pull away. Alonso, in turn, did everything possible to break away from George Russell. Behind, Verstappen began his turn, passing car after car. Also, the difference in the speed and efficiency of the cars was evident as Red Bull overtook the Haas or Alpin as standing machines. Lance Stroll also led the fight in the top ten, successfully resisting the attacks of the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers.
Mixed papers for the safety car
The race went on as usual until lap 18, when Stroll’s technique let him down. By this time Verstappen was already in fourth place.
A safety car appeared on the track, which canceled all the gaps, to the delight of Verstappen. And together with the Alonso penalty, who managed to discount it at the pit stop and pass in front of George Russell, who in turn also did not allow Carlos Sainz to advance.
In the dispute “Mercedes” – “Ferrari” so far the advantage is on the side of “Mercedes”. Leclair also tried to break through after a 10-place penalty, but did worse than Verstappen. Furthermore, a mistake in strategy once again cost the Monegasque a position. His race engineer was late with the message that Leclair needed to improve to pass Hamilton. As a result, the Ferrari with the number 16 left the pit stop behind the seven-time champion, and Leclerc asked the track engineer to give him non-a posteriori information. Mercedes proved it w14 is not that bad and can fight. And if it is updated, the Silver Arrows will again fight for the title of the best among others. Red Bull is out of competition.
How the judges ruined the race
After the pit stop, the race continued regularly, without big bangs. Verstappen closed easily first with Russell and then with Alonso. And there was the same situation that Horner was asked about before the race. Perez confidently controlled the course of the race, Verstappen did not make much effort to close the gap. At one point the Red Bull drivers started complaining about technical problems, but speed didn’t decrease because of these complaints and the pit crew’s plea to have mercy on the car went unheeded.
The end of the race presented two intrigues. The first is who would leave Jeddah as the championship leader. Until lap 50, Perez led the championship, thanks to the best lap in the race. But Max Verstappen wouldn’t be himself if he didn’t have the last word. He picked up the pace sharply, set the best lap of the race (on worn tyres), proving that if necessary he would easily enter the fight and win. And a point for best round left him championship leader. And Perez may be happy that at the second attempt he won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix again. Last year an accident deprived him of victory, this year the racing gods have repaid the debt.
And the judges started the second intrigue. At one point, Alonso was told he had to accelerate to build a five-second gap from Russell. It turns out that there were doubts whether the fine at the pit stop was properly served, or the departure of the fine under the pace car could not be counted.
Alonso listened and picked up the pace. From the last strength, but “Aston Martin” still climbed to third place, ahead of “Mercedes” by five seconds. And Alonso was on the podium for the hundredth time. The Spaniard’s joy was short-lived. The judges reviewed the race results, saw that the jack at the pit stop touched the car earlier than five seconds, and fined the Spaniard for … 10 seconds.
Alonso was deprived of his 100th career podium and Mercedes took their first podium of the season and second place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Alpin’s points stand out from the results of the rest of the teams, as he is further and further away from McLaren, who is definitely in trouble. Yes, the first point of the season at Haas, literally chewed up in the last lap by Kevin Magnussen.
League position (top ten)
Personal score: Verstappen 44, Perez 43, Alonso 27, Sainz 21, Sainz 20, Hamilton 20, Stroll 8, Leclerc 6, Bottas 4, Ocon 4.
Constructors Cup: Red Bull – 87, Mercedes – 41, Aston Martin – 35, Ferrari – 26, Alpin – 8, Alfa Romeo – 4, Haas – 1, Williams – 1, Alpha Tauri and McLaren – no points.