Dutch driver puts Bahrain setback behind him with thrilling win.

Max Verstappen secured his first win of the season at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in dramatic fashion after an intense race-long battle with the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

The reigning F1 champion went wheel to wheel with LeClerc for much of the race before finally moving past the Monégasque driver with just four laps remaining to claim a vital victory.

Oracle Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Pérez had started in pole position and was leading comfortably before pitting on Lap 14, which was immediately followed by a Nicholas Latifi crash and early safety car. This allowed Leclerc, Verstappen and Carlos Sainz to pit and overtake him, with the Mexican driver eventually finishing in fourth place.

Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly produced a superb drive to secure his first points of the season as he finished in eighth, while teammate Yuki Tsunoda – who finished eighth in Bahrain last week – was unable to start the race due to engine problems on the way to the grid.

MAX VERSTAPPEN, Finish Position: 1st, Start Position: 4th

“It was a tough and crazy race today. I had a lot of fun battling with Charles again, I really enjoyed it and it’s not easy to get past him, patience is always key, especially if you want to fight for the Championship. In the beginning it was pretty difficult to follow but I think once we swapped to the hard tyre we were able to push more and the pace was better. We played the long game on the tyres which seemed to pay off. Towards the end of the race it felt like we were doing lots of quali laps, which was intense but really cool. Ultimately, we were able to win and we can be very proud of that as a Team. It wasn’t easy out there, but I think we maximised all that we could today. It was really unlucky for Checo with the timing of the safety car but we have plenty of races ahead of us where we can make up for it.”

SERGIO PEREZ, Finish Position: 4th, Start Position: 1st

“I think sometimes when you don’t have the right luck you cannot win the race, especially on crazy tracks like this, it knocks you down. I think I dominated the first stint and I was comfortably in the lead and had the race under control but unfortunately that wasn’t enough. At first, it was a virtual safety car so I was going to lose a position and then under the safety car I lost out to Carlos too. It was the worst timing straight after my pit stop and made regaining P1 impossible after that. It was a bit of a shame I couldn’t get Carlos at the end to be on the podium but I didn’t get the chance. There are definitely a lot of positives to take from this weekend, yesterday putting it on pole and today having the race pace. So, we will keep pushing and working hard because today I really deserved the win but bad timing stopped that. I am really pleased for Max and the Team that we got a good result today, it could have been a one, two but unfortunately, we didn’t get it.”

CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal and CEO

“What a great race, it was a very strategic race from Max, not taking too much out of the tyres and making sure he had enough left to attack at the end of the Grand Prix. There was some great racing between him and Charles, it was fantastic to watch, thankfully he had enough to hang on right at the end there. It is desperately disappointing for Checo because he drove an incredible lap yesterday to get his maiden pole, he then converted that from the start to keep the lead and was controlling the race beautifully. He pitted on the lap we discussed before the race and then bang a safety car, and he was very unlucky today. It was great for the Team to rebound after the disappointment of Bahrain, everyone has worked very hard over the past week to understand and address the issues that we had. The first two races have delivered great racing between the two teams, Ferrari are very quick and we are expecting the competition to continue over the next few races.”

25-27 Mar 2022, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Jeddah

11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING RBPT501:24:19.29325
216Charles LeclercFERRARI50+0.549s19
355Carlos SainzFERRARI50+8.097s15
411Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING RBPT50+10.800s12
563George RussellMERCEDES50+32.732s10
631Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT50+56.017s8
74Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES50+56.124s6
810Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI RBPT50+62.946s4
920Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI50+64.308s2
1044Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES50+73.948s1
1124Zhou GuanyuALFA ROMEO FERRARI50+82.215s0
1227Nico HulkenbergASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES50+91.742s0
1423Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES47DNF0
NC47Mick SchumacherHAAS FERRARI0DNS0

Note – Leclerc scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race. Schumacher withdrew prior to the start of the Grand Prix following a qualifying crash. Tsunoda failed to take the start after technical issues en route to the grid.