Reigning World Champion, Max Verstappen has begun his title defence by securing his first win and points finish of the season, after winning the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Jeddah Street Circuit.
Verstappen had to work hard to earn the win battling it out with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc over the final 10 laps. Much like in Bahrain, when Verstappen made his first attempt on lap 42 to get ahead of Leclerc it was short lived, with the Ferrari driver able to reverse the move.
Verstappen remained persistent and on lap 47 it paid off able to gain the lead going into turn one, where he remained to win the race.
Verstappen had a point to prove in Jeddah, after having earnt no points in Bahrain being forced to retire with engine failure. After qualifying in fourth place, the Dutchmen quickly moved into the podium spots on the opening lap of the race, getting ahead of Carlos Sainz.
From there he remained behind Leclerc for the majority of the race until he made his move during the final few laps.
Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez finished the race fourth, however the result was disappointing for the Mexican after beginning the race in pole position. Perez earnt his first career pole position start and began the race with blistering pace, to hold the lead for the first 16 laps of the Grand Prix.
After pitting on lap 16 and subsequently coming out in fifth place, it appeared as though Perez would be able to get back into first place once everyone else pitted, however the unluckiest of circumstances occurred.
Williams Nicholas Latifi crashed into the barrier just moments after Perez exited the pits, with a safety car being deployed, slowing the race and allowing the likes of Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz to all pit and come out back ahead of him.
Overall it was a successful weekend for Red Bull with a first and fourth place finish, netting the team 37 points to now sit in third place in the Constructors Championship.
Meanwhile, Ferrari continues to lead the standings after another double podium finish with Leclerc coming second and Sainz third. The two Ferrari drivers are also the top two in the Driver Championship standings as Ferrari looks to be a contender again this season.
Ricciardo forced to retire
What started as a much improved race weekend for Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo, ended in demoralising circumstances with him having to retire from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after suffering engine problems.
The failure occurred on lap 37 with Ricciardo’s car suddenly coming to a stop, unable to accelerate. To add salt to the wound Ricciardo had just moved into the top 10 before the engine issues began.
Ricciardo and McLaren had a much improved race weekend in comparison to Bahrain the week prior. Ricciardo qualified in 12th but started 14th after being given a three place grid penalty for impeding on Apline’s Esteban Ocon in qualifying, while Lando Norris started in 11th.
While Ricciardo began the race slowly, unable to progress up the grid, an early pit stop on lap nine and a change of tyres from the medium to hard compound changed his fortunes. From there Ricciardo was able to move up the grid, picking off drivers one by one until being forced to retire just as it appeared he would earn his first point finish of the season.
Norris showed what could have been for Ricciardo, able to give McLaren their first points of the season, finishing in seventh place.
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Other notable performances
After a horrible result in qualifying, starting the race in 15th, seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton was able to earn a points finish for Mercedes with a 10th place result. Hamilton had his worst qualifying result since 2009 but did not let this deter him, battling till the end.
After starting the race on the hard compound tyres, Hamilton did not pit until lap 41, deciding not to pit when the safety car was deployed on lap 16 nor later in the race when there was a virtual safety car. Hamilton found himself as high as sixth place with under 10 laps remaining however, under the FIA rules all drivers must pit at least once during the race.
George Russell has had a good start to life at Mercedes with another top five finish in Jeddah. Russell finished the race in fifth place, to earn 10 points and now sit on 22 points overall, putting him in fourth place in the Driver Standings.
Esteban Ocon had a brilliant race weekend starting and finishing the race in fifth place. Ocon showed good race pace all weekend, even battling it out with teammate Fernando Alonso for portions of the race.
Ocon has got off to a great start to the season, earning points in both races thus far to sit in sixth place in the Driver Championship.
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