Sergio Perez claimed his fifth Formula 1 victory by keeping his Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen at bay in the second half of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Polesitter Perez briefly lost the lead to a fast-starting Fernando Alonso on the run down to Turn 1 on the opening lap, but he reclaimed the lead into the same corner on lap four.
He built a pitstop buffer over Verstappen who was charging through the field from 15th on the grid after a driveshaft failure wrecked his qualifying and looked to be Perez’s biggest threat.
But that buffer evaporated when Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin ground to a halt on lap 18 of 50 and warranted the sole safety car of the race.
That safety car allowed Alonso to serve a five-second time penalty he picked up for being out of position in his grid spot without losing second place.
Alonso was soon overtaken by Verstappen – who was fourth at the safety car restart but wasted little time in blasting past George Russell and Alonso to move into second behind Perez.
Perez held a margin of just over six seconds at that stage and he was able to more or less maintain that with Verstappen never getting the gap below four seconds.
Both drivers complained of potential issues with their RB19s – Perez complained about his brake pedal while Verstappen was spooked by noises aboard his car – and the team effectively attempted to call off the fight by asking the drivers to stick to 1m33s lap times.
Verstappen kicked on and set laps in the 1m32s, something Perez then had to match. Perez was able to match Verstappen and won the race with a 5.3 advantage to secure his fourth F1 win with Red Bull.
Perez was on course to secure the fastest lap point and move into the lead of the F1 drivers’ championship for the first time in his career but Verstappen pushed hard on the final lap to claim the point and maintain his points lead.
Alonso couldn’t keep pace with the Red Bulls but he gapped the chasing Mercedes cars and crossed the line in third place for the second consecutive race weekend but he lost that podium finish shortly after the race as he was found to have not served his penalty correctly.
That handed Russell the final place on the podium with Alonso dropping to fourth.
Lewis Hamilton, who was unable to use his medium tyre advantage to pass the hard-shod Russell after the safety car restart, finished in fifth place, just three tenths adrift of Alonso after his penalty.
The Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc (from 12th on the grid) were sixth and seventh at the chequered flag, unable to make an impression on the Mercedes duo.
Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly were eighth and ninth while Kevin Magnussen scored Haas’s first point of the season with a late-race pass on Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri.
McLaren had another point-less race with Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris picking up front wing damage on the opening lap and needing pitstops that wrecked their race. Piastri finished in 15th, two places ahead of Norris.
Stroll and the Williams of Alex Albon, who retired while complaining of braking issues, were the only drivers who didn’t see the chequered flag.
|Pos||Name||Car||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||50||47||1h21m14.894s||1m32.188s||1||25|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||50||0||+5.355s||1m31.906s||1||19|
|3||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||50||3||+20.728s||1m32.24s||1||15|
|11||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||50||0||+1m07.494s||1m33.931s||1||0|
|13||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||50||0||+1m16.06s||1m33.894s||2||0|
|14||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||50||0||+1m17.478s||1m33.609s||1||0|
|18||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||49||0||+1 lap||1m34.384s||3||0|
|Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||16||0||DNF||1m35.14s||1||0|