Sergio Perez had a clean run to win F1 Saudi Arabian GP from Max Verstappen with the recovery as Fernando Alonso was third.
It was a dream start that Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso wanted to his F1 Saudi Arabian GP as he took the lead from Red Bull’s Sergio Perez as Mercedes’ George Russell steadied in third from Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll who made a wild move on Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was sixth from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton with Alpine’s Pierre Gasly eighth from fast-starter Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu. The one to lose out was McLaren’s Oscar Piastri after contact with an Alpine.
He needed an early stop for front wing change as teammate Lando Norris made an early stop too where he likely ran over the debris from the Australian’s car. As it was being played out, the FIA stewards handed Alonso a 5s time penalty.
He was a bit too much on the left on the grid box which he was caught for. As he got the penalty, he lost the F1 Saudi Arabian GP lead to Perez when the DRS was on. The Spaniard stayed on with the Mexican while creating a good gap to Russell.
He held on from Stroll who kept Sainz and Ocon behind. Leclerc, meanwhile, climbed up after passing Gasly and Hamilton. The Frenchman also lost ninth to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who made a steady progress back in the Top 10.
Both Leclerc and Verstappen were the drivers on charge as they moved up to fifth and sixth which became fourth and fifth after Stroll pitted. The Canadian lost track position to Sainz who pitted after him and even the Monegasque got him on the road.
But Stroll was asked to stop on track to retire. There was a full safety car but the Canadian was already inside the barrier in a safe spot but it gave many a free stop. It was Perez in the lead on re-start from Alonso, Russell, Verstappen and Sainz in the Top 5.
Hamilton jumped Leclerc with a pit stop bonus as AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda gained to be eighth from Alpine pair of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. They were all struggling on the hard compound but Hamilton’s medium tyres helped him on the re-start.
He passed Sainz with the tyre advantage to be fifth. Leclerc was soon his tail with Ocon and Gasly joining the train after they both managed to pass Tsunoda for eighth and ninth. As Perez punched in quick lap times to lead, Verstappen joined him in second.
He passed both Russell and Alonso to slot behind his teammate. Russell had Hamilton on his tail soon being on different strategy as Sainz in sixth had enough on Leclerc with Ocon, Gasly and Tsunoda rounding the Top 10 from Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.
Williams’ Alexander Albon, meanwhile, was forced to retire after brake issues. At the front, Perez had good enough gap to Verstappen who had solid gap to Alonso. Russell was fourth from Hamilton with Sainz keeping his nose ahead of Leclerc in sixth.
Ocon and Gasly ran eighth and ninth as Tsunoda came under pressure from Magnussen for the final point. There was some battle behind where Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu passed Williams’ Logan Sargeant in a good move to be 13th.
At the front, while Perez led the way, there were some radio calls from Verstappen which sounded some kind of problem. The games were on though as they were going for target lap times where it didn’t seem either drivers were sticking to it.
Perez had the fastest lap but Verstappen wanted information on it to go for it despite the team saying it was not something that he should be worried about. At the fag end, Magnussen made it stick on Tsunoda at Turn 1 to finally take 10th.
It was scrappy as both locked up but Magnussen had it. Towards the end, McLaren pair were having their own fight where Piastri got Norris but the Brit came back on him to retake track position as they fought behind Sargeant.
There was also a memo to Russell about a potential penalty to Alonso who served his penalty under safety car which perhaps wasn’t allowed to do so. But Perez got the win in F1 Saudi Arabian GP as Verstappen kept it late to snatch the fastest lap from Perez.
Alonso was third and had the 5s buffer from Russell just in case, with Hamilton leading Sainz, Leclerc, Ocon, Gasly and Magnussen in the Top 10. Tsunoda was 11th from Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg with Guanyu 13th from AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries.
Piastri managed to pass both Sargeant and Norris to be 15th, as Bottas was 18th in a dismal run where he was one lap behind the leader.
DNF: Albon, Stroll
UPDATE: Post the podium was completed, the FIA handed a 10s time penalty to Alonso for serving the penalty incorrectly which dropped him to fourth and out of podium. Russell took third eventually in a much better result for Mercedes.
UPDATE 2: The penalty was reversed after right to review as Alonso was handed back third with Russell back in fourth. Here’s what happened: https://formularapida.net/fia-re-looked-alonsos-pit-stop-as-he-gets-back-jeddahs-third-place/
More to come