Perez quietly wins F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as drama plays out behind

Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Pérez led nearly from pole to finish Sunday in Saudi Arabia. And while he seemingly cruised to victory, his teammate put on a clinic.

After mechanical issues left him with a 15th place starting spot on Saturday, Max Verstappen sliced through the field Sunday and came home with a stunning second place finish.

Fernando Alonso who was as high as second at one point, finished third, but was later given a 10 second penalty for an earlier infraction and was relegated to 4th behind Mercedes driver George Russell.

Starting second due to a 10-grid place penalty for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Alonso was able to grab the lead. Soon after the start stewards put Alonso was under investigation for possibly being in an incorrect starting location. And as the field crossed the line to start the second lap the Spaniard was handed a five-second penalty to be served during his pit stop.

On lap four Perez dived down the inside of the Aston Martin into Turn 1 to reclaim the lead. By lap 11 Perez had carved out a two-second buffer to Alonso. Meanwhile Verstappen was up to ninth place.

On lap 18, Lance Stroll was told by his crew that there was an issue with his Aston Martin and was asked to stop the car. He pulled over at the side of the track and the Safety Car was sent out.

The Safety Car left the track at the end of lap 20 and, Verstappen immediately began to put pressure on George Russell. The Mercedes driver did his best to hold off Verstappen’s charge but on lap 24 his defense faded, and Verstappen charged past the Briton into Turn 27 to take P3.

Verstappen wasn’t done, however. Alonso was next on his hit list and at the end of the lap he closed right up to the Spanish driver and with DRS with wide open he eased past to claim P2.

At the end of 50 laps Pérez crossed the line to take the fifth win of his career.

“It turned out to be tougher than expected. That Safety Car… we really did a job in the first stint, but that Safety Car again tried to take the victory from us in Jeddah – but not this time! I was owed a victory last year, so finally I got it,” said Perez.

“The team did a fantastic job. The job they’ve done, they’ve worked so hard during the week, we’ve had a lot of mechanical issues and these guys have been on top of that. I’m really happy for them and it’s time to celebrate.”

Verstappen then took second and the point for fastest lap, to secure the 79th podium finish of his career.

“It wasn’t very easy to get through the field, trying to follow was difficult but very happy to be here on the podium. We decided to settle for second and call it a day, but it was still a very good recovery.”

Alonso took third but after the race stewards ruled that he incorrectly served his penalty the first time as a crewmember was touching the car during the five second penalty. After celebrating on the podium, the Aston Martin driver was handed a 10-second penalty putting him to fourth.

“No one told me this five seconds [was needed at the end of the race]. They told me just five seconds in the first stint, and I opened seven or eight. Then in the second there was no information at all, not even investigated.

“I know the team is trying to review the thing with the stewards right now, because we didn’t understand fully the second penalty. I care, but I don’t care that much! I celebrated. Now I have three points less [but] let’s try to recover [them] in Australia.”

Lewis Hamilton was fifth; Carlos Sainz sixth, with Ferrari teammate Leclerc rallying to seventh. Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly and Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top 10.

The Australian Grand Prix will be in two weeks’ time.


Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired PTS
1 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT 50 1:21:14.894 25
2 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT 50 +5.355s 19
3 63 George Russell Mercedes 50 +25.866s 15
4 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 50 +30.728s 12
5 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 50 +31.065s 10
6 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 50 +35.876s 8
7 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 50 +43.162s 6
8 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 50 +52.832s 4
9 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 50 +54.747s 2
10 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 50 +64.826s 1
11 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda RBPT 50 +67.494s 0
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 50 +70.588s 0
13 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 50 +76.060s 0
14 21 Nyck De Vries AlphaTauri Honda RBPT 50 +77.478s 0
15 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 50 +85.021s 0
16 2 Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 50 +86.293s 0
17 4 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 50 +86.445s 0
18 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 49 +1 lap 0
NC 23 Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 27 DNF 0
NC 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 16 DNF 0

* Provisional results. Note – Alonso received a 10-second, post-race time penalty for serving an in-race penalty incorrectly. Verstappen scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.