JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 09: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 09, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202403090324 // Usage for editorial use only //

Simple Saturday as Max Verstappen wins in Saudi Arabia

Max Verstappen never looked back after taking the lead into turn one as he won his second Grand Prix of the year amid the chaos at Red Bull.

Weekend round-up:

Free practice 1 started the weekend how we left the last one off, with Max Verstappen on top by +0.186s from Fernando Alonso, who was showing decent pace as the weekend got going.

Free practice 2 saw the only glimpse of non-Red Bull domination this weekend as Fernando Alonso led the field, with +0.230s separating the Spaniard from the Mercedes of George Russel, in a good sign for both teams after a not-so-great first round.

After feeling unwell on Thursday, Carlos Sainz ended his weekend in the operating room as a result of appendicitis, which prompted Ollie Bearman to the main Ferrari seat for the weekend after he had qualified on pole for F2.

Free practice 3 saw us return to usual viewing as Max Verstappen sat on top of the leader board by +0.196s from Charles Leclerc, who now led the Ferrari charge.

Qualifying was a Red Bull Sandwich, which would taste awful, as Max Verstappen took pole by +0.319s from Charles Leclerc, and Sergio Perez came home in third position.

Bearman ended his debut Qualifying in Q2 as he just missed out on Q3 finishing in eleventh position and looking to improve.

Other bits that went on were Zhou Guanyu crashing out in FP3 at the exit of turn four, which led to him not setting a flying lap in Qualifying as he started in the last position.

Moving into Qualifying the Haas’s looked pretty good again, but then Nico Hulkenberg after taking Kevin Magnussen’s slipstream to start a flying lap, lost power bringing out the only Red flag of the session.

The Race: 

Well, it wasn’t even half an hour before the race started as Lando Norris slammed on the brakes to avoid running straight into the side of a late-emerging Yuki Tsunoda as the Japanese driver left his garage.

Just as the race was about to get underway, Pierre Gasly reported that he was dealing with a gearbox issue, which added to Alpine’s miserable season start, but he made it to his grid slot.

The good sign was a false sign though, as Gasly was told to retire the car after the race started.

Off the start, Leclerc tried to make his way past Max Verstappen, who closed the door firmly to ensure that he held on to the race lead into turn one.

Sergio Perez took advantage of this and went around the outside of Leclerc at turn one, which turned in to the inside for turn two, but Leclerc stayed a long side and held on to second position on the inside line into turn four.

Leclerc was able to hold on to his second position until the start of lap four as the slipstream down the main straight saw Sergio Perez spear up the inside of the Ferrari, who only gave the Mexican a little squeeze into turn one.

A big buff of smoke as Lance Stroll headed straight for the outside tyre wall of  turn 22 after making contact with the inside of the corner, on lap seven of the race which bought out the first safety car.

This caused a large amount of activity in the pitlane, with Zhou, Hulkenberg, Norris, and Hamilton being the only ones not to come into to pit to keep track of position.

It was all go again on lap ten with Lando Norris leading the 20-car field to the line, with Norris holding onto the lead into turn one.

Ollie Bearman put himself in a great position for points as on the restart he made his way easily past Tsunoda on the inside into turn one, which put him at the time in net 10th position.

Lando Norris held the lead until lap 12 when he saw a flash of blue, as Verstappen breezed back into the lead down the start finish straight.

Bearman was eating up the competition as on lap 14 he moved to the inside and simply passed Zhou, who was on alternate strategy,  at turn one to confirm his place in a point-paying position.

Sergio Perez was continuing his decent start to the season until on lap 16 he received a five second penalty for an unsafe release, which saw Alonso breaking heavily to avoid making contact with Perez as he left his pit.

Kevin Magnussen at the same time received a ten second penalty as on the entry to turn four he squeezed Alex Albon, which caused substantial damage to the Williams drivers front wing.

It then got worse for Magnussen as he received another ten second penalty for making his way past Yuki Tsunoda, while the Haas was off the circuit.

Magnussen was a bit of cork in the bottle, in 12th position, for a while after receiving his penalty, which started to hold up runners like Tsunoda, Ocon, Albon, and Sargent.

This was helping his team mate Nico Hulkenberg who was on a alternate strategy and needed the cars behind slowing in order to hold onto his track position in tenth.

It payed off brilliantly in a great strategic call by Haas which  brought Hulkenberg back out in 11th position, but with Zhou still having to stop,  putting the German back in the top ten.

Max Verstappen, after as usual not putting a foot wrong, won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which was his ninth win in a row.

His teammate Sergio Perez did enough, with his five second penalty,  to finish a head of Charles Leclerc in second, after he finished +4.996s a head of the Ferrari.

Bearman was able to to hold off both Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton to finish in seventh position, after the two other Brits tried to make the alternate strategy work, but were unable to.




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